A Romantic Comedy About Love Shared Between African American Gay Men
By John Stein
Don’t Marry Griff tells the story of Lyodell Archer and best friend Sutton Brown as their friendship is shaken to its core once Sutton confesses his love for Lyodell. Things get even more complicated because he does it as Lyodell is about to wed his fiancé, Griffith Lowell.
“It’s a romantic comedy about love shared between African American men,” explains director Steven L. Coard, who also stars in the film. “I have always dreamed of the day when I could produce my own independent film for the gay African American community. I aim to create unique and original stories that will hopefully unite our community.”
Coard intends for Don’t Marry Griff to be the first of a series of movies that tackle love stories of gay African American characters. “It’s important for African American gay men to have characters they can identify with while being entertained,” he says.
“I think most gay black men are striving to achieve the American Dream. I know I want that white picket fence. Although I am not looking for the children part,” he adds with a grin.
In addition to Coard, Don’t Marry Griff stars Chris DeLoatch and JR Rolley.
Coard had DeLoatch in mind for the role of Sutton when writing the film. “I had seen him in the web series, ‘Bait’. He plays a psycho killer in the show but I saw a genuine goodness in him.”
The character of Sutton is the type of guy everyone dreams about being with one day. He’s honest with a sense of humor. He’s confident, courageous, communicative, a natural leader who listens and takes initiative. He’s not afraid to go after what he wants and most importantly, he stands up to Griffith in the film and provides Lyodell a safe haven.
Coard originally had another actor in the role of Griffith, but as so often happens in independent filmmaking, two weeks before filming was set to begin, the actor dropped out. Coard was left scrambling to find someone to replace him. DeLoatch recommended he consider JR Rolley, an actor known for playing lovable guy-next-door roles. Coard was doubtful as the role of Griffith called for a type-A, bad-ass personality. “Despite my hesitation, I brought JR in to read for the part. I immediately saw the passion in his eyes and that he was very prepared and looking for a character opposite from the pretty boy roles he usually plays.”
All seemed to be back on track with filming, until the actor confirmed to play Lyodell unexpectedly dropped out, too. Pressed for time, Coard decided to take on the role himself. “I had wanted to focus on working behind the camera as executive producer and director but things don’t always work out the way you plan,” he laughs. “I sucked it up and and called in my acting chops to start working again.”
Don’t Marry Griff is being distributed by Color of Love Production Studios, an award winning production company that specializes in creating stories about the LGBTQ community of color. The studio strives to focus on unique issues of relevance to the gay African American identity.
“The wonderful thing about Don’t Marry Griff is that viewers do not need to be African American and gay to enjoy it,” says Coard. “Anyone who has experienced a toxic relationship can relate to the film. It entertains and is educational as well. I won’t give away the ending but I will tell you, in Don’t Marry Griff , karma is a beeeotch.”
For more information, visit https://colorofloveproduction.com.