Garcelle Beauvais Returns to Lifetime, Sharing an Important Message with "Black Girl Missing"

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Actor Garcelle Beauvais returns to Lifetime this weekend for the premiere of Black Girl Missing, which she also co-executive produced. The film is her second for the network and like her last, Caught in His Web (2022), is another in the network's Ripped from the Headlines series that hit close to home. In the film, Beauvais portrays Cheryl Baker, a school vice principal whose life is upended when her eldest daughter, college student Lauren (Iyana Halley), disappears following a heated argument. At first, Cheryl believes she's receiving the silent treatment, but she eventually realizes that no one has heard from Lauren in days. With little aid from the authorities, Cheryl and her youngest daughter Marley (Taylor Mosby) make it their mission to uncover the truth and raise awareness of their plight.

Given the disparity in public awareness concerning missing people of color versus their Caucasian counterparts, the film had special meaning for Beauvais, who worked closely with the Black and Missing Foundation throughout the production. "The important thing about this for all of us was bringing awareness and making people see what goes on in terms of [the] disparity between if somebody Black or Brown goes missing, versus someone blonde and blue-eyed who becomes America's sweetheart," she explained while recently promoting the project. "We just want equality and to be seen.

"It's really about making sure that people are aware," she continued. "Whether it's via social media or going to the local news station. It's putting up pictures and it's having a conversation. Have you seen them? Where were they before? What were they wearing? All those things are important."

"I echo everything [Garcelle] said," noted Derrica Wilson of Black and Missing, who worked as a consultant on the film. "Awareness is key. Educating the audience about this pandemic that's affecting the minority community is so important. It's our hope that the impact of this movie shows that everyone has a responsibility to do a part when someone in our community goes missing. That's [also] law enforcement, the media and the community."

"Being a mom I'm always nervous," Beauvais explained. "My kids now want to be able to take Ubers and I worry about that a lot. I found myself crying a lot during production, even if I was just in my trailer. I think it was because of the frustration. That's what I took with me. It's frustration from real life to playing this character. It's the frustration that we want to be seen. We want to be heard, and we want to be taken seriously. We want to be validated. I mean, we carry that with us throughout our lives. So, the frustration was something that came easy because I already felt it in everyday life."

"It's very important that we showed what it really looks like when you don't have the same help as everybody else," added Mosley, who portrays Cheryl's youngest daughter. "Every single day is hard when you don't have that one person at the table, and it's a very, very difficult process. Imagine having to do that alone? You [do] have to find your own resources for this impossible situation. So, we must let people know how hard it really is going through this alone."

An important element of the story is that very often missing people of color are considered runaways, or simply missing by choice, so action is largely delayed or dismissed. "Filing a police report [is] critical and crucial" explained Wilson. "Do not allow law enforcement to turn you away. You have to champion your missing loved one and then enlist the support of [organizations like] the Black and Missing Foundation. We want to help you. We want to utilize our expertise to help bridge that gap with law enforcement, and with the media, and then rally our community members. Those are some things we can do at the grassroots level."

In addition to exploring the aftermath of a loved one's disappearance, and how to deal with it, the cast is hopeful that by highlighting the issue, prevention might also be a takeaway. "We have to understand the systemic issues of why our people are going missing in the first place," Wilson asserted. "We wanted to take that proactive approach. They're going missing for human trafficking, mental health issues, homelessness, and the list goes on. We also need to change policy with law enforcement and how they handle cases.

"We know the first 24 hours are the most critical moments," she continued. "But law enforcement wants families to wait 24 hours. When it's a missing Black or Brown person in our community, the wait is even longer because our cases are not taken seriously. They're not receiving Amber Alerts, and there's no sense of urgency. Regardless of race, or zip code, these families matter. They all deserve coverage and resources from law enforcement and the media."

According to Beauvais, this project ranks high on her list of achievements. "I got to executive produce and [help] bring this story to life," she proudly stated. "Having this platform to bring awareness to things that are important to me and my community ... For that reason alone, the message, the story and hopefully [the ability to change] something makes it rank pretty high with everything that I've done. I am thrilled to be a part of it and always ready to do something that's going to give back to our community.

"I wasn't aware of the Black and Missing Foundation before meeting Derrica at the Ebony Power event," she added in closing. "Now I follow them on social media. It breaks my heart every time I see a new post, and it just makes it that much more powerful for us to bring awareness to this movie."

Black Girl Missing will be telecast Saturday, March 4 at 8 p.m. on Lifetime.

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