Interview by Sherman Escoffery—
After first catching our attention in Storm Saulter‘s award-winning Jamaican feature film Better Mus’ Come, in which she shined as the female lead Kemala, Jamaican model-turned-actress Sky Nicole Grey is back on our radar with her role in Restless City, director Andrew Dosumnu’s intoxicating look into the experience of young African immigrants in New York City. Grey, who, it turns out, is also a budding recording artist, stopped by our RadioLily.com show The LargeUp Sessions week before last and chopped it up with our Sherman Escoffery and DJ Gravy about her roles in the aforementioned films, and to give us a taste of her debut single, “Lollipop.” Read on for portions of that interview, and check the African American Film Releasing Movement website to see when you can screen Restless City in your city, if you haven’t caught it already.
LargeUp: Tell us about your new film, Restless City
Sky Nicole Grey: I am the lead actress in a movie called Restless City that was shot right here in New York City.
LU: Where in New York City?
Sky: A few places. It started in Harlem and went down to Canal street and a bit in Brooklyn as well.
LU: Where in Brooklyn? Brownsville, shoot to kill Brownsville?
Sky: Oh gosh, there is so much places. We did a little bit in Flatbush as well. I don’t remember all the places in Brooklyn but I know we covered Brooklyn and of course Harlem and the big Manhattan.
LU: New York, New York, the city so big they named it twice. Or as they say here, “With a knife and a fork and a bottle and a cork, that’s the way you spell New York.” So how has your trip here been so far?
Sky: Oh my gosh, I am just so overwhelmed. First I passed through and I stopped for the screening of Better Mus’ Come and that was just so amazing. So much people outside, everybody wanted to get in, the whole bumrush thing.
Sky and Sherman. Photo: DJ Autograph.
Sky and friend at the Better Mus’ Come NYC premiere
LU: Let’s talk a little bit about Better Mus Come.
Sky: Right, Better Mus’ Come is a movie that was shot in Jamaica based in the 1970s, a little bit of the gang war and the love story that softened up the movie and that’s where I come in.
LU: And a lot of the movie was about the Green Bay killing… the Green Bay massacre which was before your time.
Sky: Way before my time but can I tell you that for me Better Mus’ Come was an educational piece. I had to do so much research. I went back and talked to my granddad and grand-uncle and said tell me about the 1970s. I want to hear about the 1970s. The director is young, Storm Saulter, and for him to go back in the past and dig up a very important piece, something that nobody talks about, because I didn’t know about the Green Bay Massacre before I got the role in Better Mus Come. So I stopped here for Better Mus Come, then I went on to Egypt to represent “Restless City” and I’m back in New York.
LU: What is the central theme or the plot of Restless City?
Sky: It’s based on African immigrants right here in New York. You know people from all over the world come to New York City, it’s a place where artist people will think…. this guy who plays the lead actor in the movie thinks he is going to be the next Akon and he wants to be the next Akon so it’s a place where big dreams happen. It doesn’t necessarily come true but you come and you have to deal with the struggle you know? You might get yourself in a good situation, you might end up in a bad situation. In this case they end up in a good/bad situation and it is a struggle to stay together and, you know, you feel the love.
LU: Talk about the character that you play.
Sky: I play an African woman—African, Caribbean, you’re not sure where she’s from. Her name is Trini and she came here in New York trying to be successful as well and finds herself in the wrong circle and [falls] in love.
LU: Did you say Trini?
Sky: Her name is Trini and no, they didn’t get the name from Trinidad. Everyone always asks “Is she from Trinidad?”
LU: And did you relate to this character in any way?
Sky: Oh definitely. I left Jamaica at a very young age and came here, but first I went to London to pursue a modeling career. That industry is kind of crazy sometimes so it’s hard to stay away from the things that is not really good for you but there is so much good things, too. It’s a struggle and so in that sense I can relate to her, definitely.
LU: So how is your modeling career going?
Sky: I have been in Jamaica for a while working on music. I decided I was going to move back to Jamaica and take a break from modeling and focus on music and acting for a bit but [modeling gigs] kept coming down to Jamaica. I am planning on coming back into it soon but for right now I am spending my time writing music and recording and promoting the movies.
LU: Talk about the name Sky.
Sky: It’s my nickname. I am that kid that would get up and act and entertain my family pretending to be different characters and performing and pretending to be my mom and stuff and I was like “I can do everything. The sky is the limit!” My childhood friends started calling me Sky and before I know it my entire family start calling me Sky.
LU: Have you got more roles after Restless City?
Sky: I can’t say too much about them right now but yes, I’ve got other roles and I’m very, very grateful.