AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Paine College Alum Samuel Lee Fudge is using his gift of acting and his skills in filmmaking to educate the world about an historical figure in Black history.
Fudge chats with WJBF about his beginning in the arts and his latest project, Mosiah, which is based on the life of political activist Marcus Garvey.
Thank you for joining us on Celebrating Black Excellence. So, let’s get started with your career as an actor. How did you get started with acting?
My ambitions to act started when I was a kid. I had a very bleak reality growing up, so I would watch television, of course, like every other child. I was inspired by the images I had seen on TV. So, of course, I started just acting out in my room, and then, my room started to the bank or to the laundromat with my mom. Then, it just developed from there. It really got kicking at Paine College. Of course, I graduated from Paine, so being in the theater program there. Then, of course, you [Victory Productions] giving me my first opportunities here in the community to act on camera, and it just blew off from there to where I’m at now with directing and writing.
So, what made you want to transition from acting into filmmaking?
Wanting to tell narratives that that I had an interest in: narratives that I thought would be beneficial towards our people and narratives that wasn’t expressed through media before. I just wanted to be a representative for Black narratives that needed to be told to the world, to our society, especially where I’m from. You know, like I said, I’m from a bleak reality: the inner-city communities of Miami, Florida, so not so often are stories told. Not so often are our narratives told. So just being a representative of Black underserved community of stories is just something huge for me. So, that’s definitely why I went into independent filmmaking.
Let’s talk about your first short, Lotus. Now, how was that experience?
Oh, man, it was quite an experience. It was my first rodeo and doing everything. So just having to manage the crew, having to still act, having to direct myself, but also direct my peer actors. It was a lot. I definitely couldn’t do it without the support of my team though with just pre-planning, planning, post planning, pre-planning during planning, and just planning in general. I had to be cohesive with my team with them helping me out even my assistant director at the time with just directing and seeing things that I couldn’t necessarily see. But it was definitely a challenge. I’m glad we got through it because it led to other projects.
You are an alum of Paine College. How did that institution shape your career?
In a major way. Because of Paine College, just the knowledge of being cultivated, learning of myself, learning of my culture, learning about people… The biggest thing I grasped from Paine College is just learning my responsibility with the society of being a Black man, who possesses an education and using my education and my gift for the better good of the community and our people. That’s the biggest thing. I couldn’t leave that school without realizing my potential, but also realizing the responsibility that I had, and it’s been off to the races since then.
You have your latest project, Mosiah, which is about Marcus Garvey. For those who may not know, can you tell us who Marcus Garvey is?
Absolutely. Marcus Garvey is a Jamaican born political activist who did a lot of work here in the States, but also across the country. Some may call him the father of Pan-Africanism. Pan-Africanism is just the uniting of all Black people worldwide: African-descent people worldwide. That’s just a small part of who Marcus Garvey was or what he represented: Black enterprise, Black business, Black media, everything Black. So, with that small, small information, that’s who Marcus Garvey was.
Now, what made you take this role and what made you take on acting and also wanting to put this film together?
Oh, man, I felt as though it was my calling. It felt that I had to do it. Matter of fact, I felt compelled to do it. I felt honestly, full heartedly, that God and Marcus Garvey himself chose and selected me to portray him on screen, but also tell his story through script form of course. I had to do it. Ever since I was a child, I was fortunate enough to be educated on who Marcus Garvey was. As a child, I grasped his ideologies and his concepts. It made sense to me. So, I just knew that I had to do it one day. By the grace of God, that opportunity came. Miss Halima Albury was looking for scripts to produce as she came across my Marcus Garvey script, Mosiah. She put it in the hands of an amazing director. His name is Gerard, and it went off from there. And so, God’s doing. I knew that it just goes back to responsibility. I just knew that I had to play a part in history, and that was the opportunity.
A lot of times when you’re doing these bio-pics, how hard is it to portray somebody that’s actually real?
It’s very hard, and the hardest part was that there’s no media representation of Marcus Garvey out there. So, no one really knows how his voice sounds. Nobody really knows what his mannerisms were. Nobody. There was nothing. So, I had to create that. So, oh my gosh, it was extremely difficult, but thankfully, through his words and through his speeches, I was able to grab the emotions from his speeches. I was able to develop a personality from his speeches. Just little things that were out, there information wise in regard to who he was or the things he did, I was able to build off of that as well, but the biggest thing was that it was never done before. No one had done it. So, that came with more responsibility because I knew that my performance will be judged worldwide by followers, by critics, and by everyone, So, I knew I had to do my due diligence and make sure that I portrayed him accurately and, important to me, effectively to where our people can receive his messages and the ideas that Marcus Garvey put out.
How’s this experience impacted your life?
The biggest thing that now since I have played Marcus Garvey, people are still learning who he is. It is impacting my life because I feel like in my heart that I have to live in honor just being able to represent him. So, I say that, and seeing in my everyday life, I have to look for opportunities to build our people. I have to look for opportunities to cultivate our people. Push self-reliance, push Black empowerment, and push these different ideas that Marcus Garvey put out. It’s crazy like going to different festivals, and people who love Marcus Garvey, they now see me as Marcus Garvey, which is crazy. That blows my mind. People want to take pictures. People want me to give them some wisdom of what Marcus Garvey would do if he was here. So, it has changed my life drastically. But like I said before, I was definitely selected to fill this role, but also, I think I’m handling it very well.
You will be screening Mosiah in December at the Peachtree Village International Film Festival. How has the festival circuit been?
It’s been a rollercoaster, honestly speaking. It’s been a rollercoaster. Being the first, it means a lot of things. Being a first is the acceptance part of it. So, people openly accepting the messages and people openly accepting the content. Then, there’s some people who just openly are like, “Hey, yes, we love it! Come bring it. We want to screen it, and we want to do all this stuff too.” So, it’s been a rollercoaster right now, but now finally, it’s picking up. It’s picking up speed. People are more behind it with bigger names. Of course, they’re now behind the film, as well. So, it’s pretty good so far.
What words of encouragement can you give somebody who wants to either get into acting or get into filmmaking?
The biggest thing is if you want to be in control of your stories and your narratives, and if you don’t see your story often on our on media circuits, be in control of your own destiny and of your own fate. Tell your narratives, or else it would never be told, or someone else would tell. Just like you [Victory Productions] inspired me to do that, I inspire the next person. Tell your stories in the way that you want to tell them without it being touched or tainted in any shape, form, or fashion. Be in control of your stories. Be in control of your destiny. Be in control of your fate. And Marcus Garvey would back that! (Laughs)
If people want to follow your journey or they want to see what you got going on, how can they do so?