A new African romantic dramedy titled “Hyde Park” came to Houston for its opening release at Studio Movie Grill Theater in Pearland on July 14 and is playing in other locations nationwide.
“Hyde Park” is a film that follows a Nigerian-American attorney tasked with saving his gay client from deportation to Uganda.
The backdrop of the movie is the South side of Chicago. The lead character is attorney David Eguasa (played by actor/writer/producer Kenneth Okolie), who is faced with the tough decision to take on the case that goes against his family upbringing, while navigating his romantic relationship with his American girlfriend Lola Henderson (played by Dawn Halfkenny) that defies his culture’s norm.
The film tackles several issues considered taboo in many African communities such as intercultural relationships and societal acceptance of the LGBTQ community.
Executive producer Lotten Yeaney is the visionary behind the film. She is known to produce movies that highlight the complexities and beauty of the Black experience both in Africa and the diaspora. Now, Yeaney is introducing her latest project with hopes that viewers understand cultural differences and the power of “loving unconditionally.”
“I’m from Liberia [West Africa] originally, I’m dark-skinned, and I’m a woman. I fit a lot of boxes when it comes to being marginalized,” said Yeaney. “This film is personal to me because I have friends and family members who are gay and have struggled to be their authentic selves when in many African communities, identifying as LGBTQ is not welcomed. I wanted to find my own way to bring empathy to these individuals around me.”
Okolie is a highly revered actor in the Nigerian movie industry. “Hyde Park” will be his Hollywood debut in Houston where a large population of residents are of Nigerian descent.
“LGTBQ communities are very much misunderstood in Africa…and so is the idea of marrying outside of the culture. Africans have traditions, and certain lifestyles that deviate from the norm isn’t widely accepted,” said Okolie. “The world is changing and advancing, so connecting both Africa and the diaspora has been much easier. We are seeing more people choosing to live freely and express their love authentically.”
“Hyde Park” will be released in four other Studio Movie Grill Theaters in Atlanta, Indianapolis, Philadelphia and Dallas.
“This is massive opportunity,” Okolie said. “I’ve known Lotten about six years now and when she told me about this project it hit me because I could relate to it based off people who I knew who were going through similar situations. I hope when people watch this movie that they are encouraged to not let culture and traditions keep them away from loving others and being loved.”
Tickets for the showing of “Hyde Park” are available on the Studio Movie Grill website. The showing will be followed by a question-and-answer segment with Okolie and director Mark Harris.