When it comes to relationships, most people feel like the rules are black and white – and it’s not often Black people are encouraged to cross it. At least not in the world of traditional Hollywood romance films.
Recently BET.com spoke to one of the stars of BET’s original film, OPEN, a romantic drama starring actors and Keith Robinson and Essence Atkins. In the film, which debuts this weekend, Robinson plays “Cameron,” husband to “Wren” (played by Atkins) of nearly 10 years.
The film explores the lives of a wife and husband who explore the idea of having a non-traditional arrangement in their marriage, including incorporating the act of polygamy, in an effort to minimize any marital foul play. However, every game has its rules, as Cameron and Wren soon learn.
BET recently spoke to Robinson, who opened up about everything from the inspiration behind the film, relationship do’s and do not’s, and further, what to expect from the drama-erotica.
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BET: Were there any artistic and/or personal inspirations behind the making of OPEN, for you, and was there anything that specifically attracted you to taking on this role?
I think actors all have this common denominator where we want to be the conduit, and it gives us an excuse to say those things and to do certain things. So that was what made it interesting for me; is that, this world [of polygamy] is so untouchable, so to speak. I think that’s the attraction of the subject matter for me.
BET: How was playing the role of ‘Cameron’ in OPEN any different from your past roles?
For me, the difference was that the woman is the protagonist. In romance movies, it’s usually, you know – “Harry” and “Sally,” or other typical love stories, and this is definitely not a typical love story. In OPEN, I’m kind of the one that’s responding to everything happening around me, and she (“Wren,” played by Essence Atkins), is kind of putting it on me. So that was a new position for me to play, and I had a lot of fun with that, to say the least.
BET: When describing or comparing OPEN to other past eroticas starring people of color, do you feel its similar to say a “Trois” movie trilogy?
I think OPEN is its own thing. It’s uncharted territory and it’s not necessarily about the number (of willing participants), because if we go into it with no numbers, it could be three, could be four, could be five, it could be whatever we connect with.
This movie is really intimate. You really get to know the characters, and you see the pain that they endure, and what happens from their own decisions. You kind of get sucked into their plight, and you end up rooting for them to try and figure a way out of this hole that they’ve dug themselves into. So I think it’s way more than [sex]. it’s not about sex; sex is just one element of it. It’s more about trust issues, you know? And trying to find levity, and trying to find something to hold on to that’s going to make it last.
BET: Nice! That makes sense. With that said, on the subject of making things work and making things last, is there anything specifically that you’d say is a non-negotiable rule in any relationship, in order to make it work?
Definitely understanding. I think one of the rules in a relationship should be “No open relationships.” (laughs)
BET: That’s too funny! Ok, so what about the key ingredients to making a relationship work?
I would also say the key ingredients are empathy and self-awareness in a relationship. Be aware of yourself and how you come off, and the energy that you’re applying. Also be empathetic to your partner’s energy.
BET: Alright Keith! So we already know that OPEN premieres on BET this Saturday, March 14. However, anything else we can expect from you, coming out soon?
“The album will be out this summer; it’s called Love Episodic 2, and one is out right now. “Love Language” is in the movie, which is also on the album. There’s also a song called “Happy,”
which is also in the movie and on the album. So those are kind of two little previews. Then season five of Saints and Sinners will be out this summer. And who knows what else? We shall see. Maybe OPEN the sequel!
OPEN will premiere on Saturday, March 14th at 8PM on BET & BET HER.
(Photo: Paul Archuleta/Getty Images)