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The Essence Festival is an annual celebration of Black music. However, Black musicians were not the only people in attendance.


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SOHH.com had the pleasure of speaking with actors Dayo Okeniyi, Yetide Badaki, and Uche Agada. The trio are part of the main cast of “Rise,” a Disney+ movie based on the true story of NBA star Giannis Antentokounmpo and brother Thanasis, who moved to Greece from Nigeria, where they discover their extraordinary basketball talents and make ends meet for their struggling family.

Dayo, Yetide, and Uche discuss what viewers should expect to see, African representation, and Black joy in this exclusive interview.

According to Yetide Badaki, who plays Veronica, it is an immigrant story about family, dreams, and beliefs.

“It’s gonna be a deeply inspirational story.”

Dayo Okeniyi, who plays Charles, follows by discussing the importance of African representation. 

“I grew up watching Disney movies, and I gotta say there weren’t too many people who looked like me.”

Okeniyi continues by saying there is “specificity” in the Black diaspora, and the director highlights a “specific human experience.”

Uche Agada, who plays Giannis Antetokounmpo, finished the interview by saying that shooting this film brings him Black joy.

“Shooting a Disney movie in Greece, starring in it with my actual brother, just living out all the dreams of the people who came before me who can never have the opportunity. What more Black Joy is there than that.” 

“Rise” is currently out on Disney+

The main cast of “Rise” were not the only people SOHH.com spoke to at the Essence Festival. 

SOHH.com had the honors of catching up with singer and actress Ryan Destiny at Essence fest. During an exclusive interview, Ryan let us know current trends she’s into, three things she cannot live without, and upcoming projects she’s currently working on.

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