Lifetime's latest Ripped from the Headlines movie, Every Breath She Takes, delves into the effects of domestic abuse, both physical and mental. The film stars Tamala Jones as Jules Baker, a woman who has stayed in a troubled relationship for longer than she should have. Jules believes she has a reprieve, after a physical altercation with her husband Billy (Brian White, pictured at top with Jones) results in a fire that partially destroys their home and ends his life. After becoming a suspect in his possible murder, Jules doesn't think things could get worse. That's until she starts seeing signs that Billy may not have perished in the fire, is stalking her, and her mental state is added to the growing list of questions surrounding his death.
In addition to starring, Jones served as one of the project's executive producers. "The experience was amazing," she beamed while recently promoting the film with her co-stars. "It was effortless as far as the work was concerned because everyone [came] prepared, ready to go and giving it their best. I mean, I [had] the honor of working with Jackée Harry (pictured below), someone I've admired for so long and I have to say performed her ass off and was incredible. I knew we had the right actors playing these characters. Brian White always gives it, and he's really good at playing that crazy deranged partner."
"I came into it trying to service the boss," White recalled. "Tam was the executive producer and star. The first thing I asked her was how she saw the movie so I could figure out how to support her and lift her up. This is a team game and at the end of the day you have to feel Jules' pain and why she's doing the things she's doing. I wanted real clarity, and Tamala was very good at communicating what she needed. We tried to give it to her with every take. Darin (Scott), our director, was amazing, and it was just a was a fun journey."
"I echo that," Harry chimed in. "I like to support women in positions of power, and I love seeing my little young darlings coming up. Like Regina King sitting in the director's chair now. I've directed sitcoms, and I know immense responsibility comes with it. Tamala was very kind, and I was very comfortable. I didn't know [she] was a producer till I got there and thought, 'She got a little power.' It was great seeing her come into her own."
"Well, I can tell you that everyone made it easy as far as the producing hat," Jones said. "It just was the best experience, and I would love to do it again. But acting is my passion. I love it, so that's never a hard thing for me to get into or enjoy. I thought [producing] would be a lot more difficult and it really wasn't. I think that has a lot to do with who was involved, and who was I playing with."
While the film is an entertaining thriller, its stars are hopeful that viewers will not only enjoy the ride but question when enough is enough concerning domestic abuse -- and either get out or get help. "I think the part that my character Jules had a leg up on was that she was already in therapy and getting help," Jones explained. "She had someone she could talk these things through with and I think that's where she drew her strength from. When people are in situations like that, do they have a therapist to say, 'Okay, I gotta fight back?' Her mental stability was somewhat there; it was trying to convince everyone [else] she was not going to give up and prove she wasn't crazy."
"I hope conversations happen," White said. "If this story gets couples talking then that's helpful. Communication is key, so I'm hoping that as a society we discuss domestic violence and get to the root of what's causing it. Often, it's a lack of communication and being on the same page with your partner. These characters started the relationship because they communicated, and that communication broke down and led to bad things. I'm hoping people will talk about [their] relationships."
"I'm a very strong woman," Harry declared. "If you even look at me like you gonna hit me, it's over and I walk out the door! I want to raise my kids and grandkids to have that strength because it takes courage to admit that you have been abused. [Often] people are ashamed of it. We have to get rid of the shame and guilt that you stayed in [that] relationship. You can love somebody that abuses you, and that's at the heart of [this].
"I used to think women couldn't do it all," she added in closing. "I'm just learning we can, but it takes extra effort. The extra effort is educating your man, or your woman, that I don't want to be treated this way. If you're going to continue this, let's get some help, some therapy, and talk. You do have to communicate with a professional or somebody you trust, that can help you get to the bottom of why [there's] anger because that's usually where it starts."
Every Breath She Takes will be telecast Saturday, March 25th at 8 p.m. on Lifetime.
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