Saturday, May 25, 2024

Terrell Ransom Jr. on Playing a ‘Hero’ Who ‘Pushed Through’ an Abusive System

*Actor Terrell Ransom Jr. (“The Amazing World of Gumball”) takes on the real-life story of best-selling novelist Steve Pemberton in the feature, “A Chance in the World.” This is an unbelievably true story of a wounded and broken boy destined to become a man of resilience and vision.

From the day he is five-years-old and dropped off at his foster home of the next eleven years, Steve (a blue-eyed black boy) is mentally and physically tortured by his foster parents and foster siblings. Desperate for a sense of family and belonging, Steve searches for his biological parents, but no one in the system can help him. Eventually, through the help of his high-school teacher and his love of literature, Steve finds that family isn’t just a biological function, it’s a choice based in love.

“A Chance in the World” played in 800 theaters on May 30 and 90 days from the premiere date it will stream in over 30 countries.

Terrell+Ransom, Steve Pemberton

EUR/Electronic Urban Report dished about the project with Terrell, who is also a successful sketch comedy actor, having established his own YouTube channel garnering hundreds of thousands of views.

Check out our Q&A below.

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Terrell Ransom Jr. attends the Days Of Our Lives’ 50th Anniversary Celebration at Hollywood Palladium on November 7, 2015, in Los Angeles, California.
(Source: Vivien Killilea/Getty Images North America

Which came first for you, the novel or the script?

TR: The script. I got into the book after reading a little of the script. After reading the book and compared to the script, it helped me play the role better because, in the book, it explains how the person is feeling at that time. So I knew how to play the scenes, especially when I was able to get help directly from Steve.

Tell us about Steve Pemberton and what makes his story so unique and compelling.

TR: Steve was a kid in foster care and he was put with this family who was abusive; physically and mentally. He lived with them for 11 years and he was able to get himself out of the situation by people gravitating towards him and helping him out and giving him books and that’s kinda how he pushed through and become a successful businessman. It’s just the tale of a hero who was able to push through.

You play young Steve in the film, so talk about some of the challenges he endured during this stage of his life.

TR: He was abused physically/mentally. I had to go through that day-to-day while filming. Books are what made Steve visualize a better life.

How challenging is it to play a child victimized by abuse?

TR: The only person I had to talk to was Steve, ‘cause I was definitely playing his story. He was with me throughout filming and saying what he was going through at that time, which was definitely a big help when you’re filming something like that. I was able to separate myself from this abusive lifestyle that was being pushed on to me. So just having him there to be like, “You just need to cry a little less, ‘cause I was mad and angry. I wasn’t sad in this situation.” So having him there was all the help I really needed.

Terrell Ransom Jr. at Nickelodeon’s 2017 Kids’ Choice Awards at USC Galen Center on March 11, 2017, in Los Angeles, California.
(Source: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images North America)

What types of conversations did you have with Steve about how to bring the script to life?

TR: The first time I met him was the first day I was on set and he was watching the scenes and one of the biggest things he told me was: “I was not a victim.” So I knew not to play it as a victim, but play it as someone who is strong and trying to push through all the pain. Having him say those words really helped me see clearly what I was supposed to do.

Would you say this is a survivor’s tale?

TR: I think it’s a hero’s tale. I feel like a survivor’s tale is something that doesn’t happen often but Steve definitely wants other kids who are going through the same situation that he was back then to be able to say, “Oh, all I have to do is take action to get myself out of this situation so I can be successful just like Steve is.”

Do you think there’s an overall message for men in Steve’s story?

TR: There’s an overall message for anyone who has experienced any kind of hardship. No matter what, you can definitely come through that and still be successful. As long as you have that vision/have that dream, that’s all you need to take action to become successful.

Talk about the impact this story has had on you. How have you been inspired by Steve’s journey?

TR: He always says I’m a part of the family, which is crazy. He’s kind of an idol for me. After enduring those hardships and still becoming successful and having a family and being loved, I think that’s so great.

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