ACADEMY AWARD WINNER CUBA GOODING JR. STARS IN HALLMARK HALL OF FAME'S "FIRELIGHT" FOR ABC
Academy Award winner Cuba Gooding Jr. ("Jerry Maguire," "Radio") stars in a new Hallmark Hall of Fame film, "Firelight," premiering SUNDAY, APRIL 22 (9:00-11:00, ET) on the ABC Television Network. Darnell Martin (Hallmark Hall of Fame's "Lost Valentine") directs from a script by Ligiah Villalobos ("Under the Same Moon").
Cuba Gooding Jr. plays Dwayne Johnson ("DJ"), a counselor at a youth correctional facility. The incarcerated girls and young women come from troubled - often violent -- backgrounds. Many of them belong to gangs and have been involved with illegal drugs - as users and/or dealers. In the words of DJ, "They come in [here] so broken... These are girls who've been abused and objectified their whole lives."
Salvation for many of the young women comes when they join an elite band of volunteers who battle forest fires, build hiking trails in remote areas and assist during natural disasters. The volunteers have to survive several weeks of rigorous training, they have to be in peak physical condition and have to learn how to work as a team, often in life-threatening situations.
DJ explains that he developed the volunteer force "because I wanted to change the way these girls see themselves. To feel strong. To see other people respecting their strength." In the words of Cuba Gooding Jr., "These women fought to save lives. They ended up saving their own."
The team leader is Terry Easle, played by DeWanda Wise. Keisha Daniels (Yakina Horn) is another key member. Both are hoping Caroline Magabo (Q'Orianka Kilcher) will join the elite group, although she has considerable hurdles to overcome; she has a propensity for getting into trouble, which for a long time precludes her signing up.
Cuba Gooding Jr.'s breakout role was in John Singleton's "Boyz N the Hood." He subsequently appeared in such major films as "A Few Good Men," "Men of Honor," "Pearl Harbor," "As Good As It Gets" and "American Gangster." In 1996 he starred in Cameron Crowe's "Jerry Maguire," which earned him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar. He also stars in George Lucas' "Red Tails," which tells the story of the Tuskegee Airmen in World War II.
With her "I Like It Like That" (1996), Darnell Martin became the first African American woman to produce and direct a major studio movie. She has directed episodes of many television series, including "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" and "Grey's Anatomy," as well as the television movie "Their Eyes Were Watching God." In 2008 Martin returned to the big screen as writer and director of "Cadillac Records."
Brent Shields (Hallmark Hall of Fame's "A Smile as Big as the Moon"), Alicia Keys ("The Nanny Diaries," "The Secret Life of Bees") and Mary Martin ("Fair City") are executive producers of "Firelight." David A. Rosemont (Hallmark Hall of Fame's "November Christmas") serves as producer. The film is from Hallmark Hall of Fame Productions.
"Firelight" is broadcast in 720 Progressive (720P), ABC's selected HDTV format, with 5.1-channel surround sound. A TV parental guideline will be assigned closer to airdate.