Bringing Awareness to Mental Health Through Film
Updated: Feb 18, 2021
John Wynn's Playhouse is being released on The Wynn Network and other outlets. The story follows a group of friends who head to a retreat together after the main character (Derrick) is invited by his couples therapist. Once they are invited to attend nightly therapy sessions they realize this will be much more than a getaway. Throughout the movie, healing takes place and lies are exposed proving you can never escape your past and must face your challenges head on. The release will coincide with Counseling Awareness Month in April. I had the opportunity to participate in the press conference with the cast and ask some questions.
The film was written and produced by Dr. John Wynn, a bishop, counselor, author and motivational speaker (the film is directed by Rueben Johnson). It highlights some of the lessons from his prior book, "Wrestling with God." The film is faith based but the cast is quick to point out unlike some other faith based films, this one is entertaining and inspirational. Dr. Wynn hopes the film will "help people look at life from a more positive level when things get tough." If there is one takeaway, he says it is "Be your truth." Wynn expressed, 'Everyone can relate to one of these characters."
There is still a stigma and hesitancy to discuss mental health and go to therapy which is even more prominent in the African -American community. Ernest Thomas who plays "Pops" (as seen in What's Happening!, What's Happening Now! and Everybody Hates Chris) states, "This film is gonna make people talk." He went on to discuss that suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death of black males in their twenties and feels the film will save lives. He stated, "Men can't express themselves and most don't seek therapy. We still have a long way to go. " I asked Dr. Wynn about how he has continued to maintain community during the isolation of the pandemic and he told me about a 12 hour platform he helped put together with content that included singing and prayer seen by over 700K people online. He also talked about maintaining the cast bubble to film the movie during a pandemic. They all stayed at a mansion together, were tested regularly and "ate good." Sounds good to me!
Kervin Smith (playing Dr. Williams in the film) talked about the pandemic being a time of humility and self-reflection. 'We are usually moving so much we never have time to deal with us." Kervin talked about the need to find some normalcy amidst the chaos of the pandemic and find little things like a walk that can bring you joy. Finally, he said it is important to gravitate towards peaceful situations and not to drama. He knows people will see themselves in this movie and recognize they need to go to counseling or get themselves together. "We as a people always have a lot of secrets but eventually you have to deal with you," he said.
Vincent Ward plays the "ladies man" role of Derrick in the film (as seen in The Walking Dead). He feels the pandemic has brought much needed attention to racism. He stated, " This stuff is really happening in the world (discussing George Floyd) and you can't ignore it when you are sitting in your house watching it all day. This stuff is real."
The film is also edited by one of the youngest African American women in a male dominated industry, Angel Wynn.
Dr. Wynn launched the on demand video platform in 2017. You can download the app for The Wynn Network or watch online at www.wynnnetwork.com. You can also download the platform for free on Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Firestick, ios and android devices.
Photo courtesy of publicist Farrah Lollis.