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Conversation with Cast Members TobiasTruvillion, McKinley Freeman, and Malinda Williams for TV One

Updated: Feb 13, 2022

“Inspired by TV One's true crime programming, LOVED TO DEATH stars Malinda Williams (Girlfriends' Getaway, Soulfood, Daddies Little Girl), MC Lyte (Girls Trip, Love Jones: The Musical), McKinley Freeman (Hit the Floor), Tobias Truvillion (Empire) and Chrystee Pharris (Media). The film charts a newly engaged couple whose lives are cut short when they are suddenly gunned down by a crazed ex-lover at a tollbooth. Upon meeting and falling in love with Dre (Truvillion), Monica (Williams) leaves a long -term abusive relationship with Jackson (Freeman) to be with her new love. Tune in to find out how a once loving relationship turned deadly.”

Premiere: Sunday, July 21 at 8 p.m. ET/7C; Encore Sunday, July 21 at 10 p.m.

Malinda Williams, Tobias Truvillion, and McKinley Freeman each describe their preparations for the roles in passionate and impending perspectives.

Malinda Williams, who’s known as Bird in Showtime Series: Soul Food, said that the movie is a cautionary tale. 

“I play Monica who is involved in an abusive relationship from 12 to 15-years of her life and she finally makes the decision to leave after meeting, Dre, this gentleman who’s played by Tobias. She gets involved with him and she comes to the understanding of what it’s really like to be loved, that she’s deserving of love after being in this relationship with McKinley Freeman’s character. It’s really just letting everyone know what the nuance of those things are. It’s not necessarily about physical abuse all the time. Sometimes there are behaviors that we don’t recognize readily and things that can escalate into major assault and ultimately something that can be more tragic.”

“From my perspective and just adding to Malinda’s points,” chimes McKinley. “I play a character that comes into her life and unassuming, it’s kind of like any other way that you meet somebody, chances, and bounds. It turns into a relationship and once inside that relationship, things start bubbling to the surface. Among those things were signs of abuse and instability. Obviously, it’s someone who doesn’t value and see the world the way that her (Malinda’s) character Monica does. The obvious cautionary tale that speaks about what you’re doing. Sadly, to be prevalent in the world of how connected we are and how social we are, we still can’t find the words, ‘I need help,’ which is powerful.  I think when we start talking about the complexities of Jackson and mental health— We talked about it on the set about how it’s an amazing transfer. We shed light on it, there are roads that we go down, but we can stop ourselves by simply having someone to talk to, a professional, a psychiatrist, and having a chance to get some of those things off your chest. Jackson is a person who has a view of the world that’s defeated, and he’s trying to find attraction and ways to get his wife back from somebody else."

“I play Dre, says Tobias, “Who’s in a transitional place in his life, looking for spiritual growth. He’s looking for love and ends up finding Malinda’s character upon a meeting in church, and they spark up a relationship. He is caught up in the wake of her past relationship and it doesn’t turn out too well for them. Dre was a guy that’s kinda finding his way into a new neighborhood, and he’s getting to a place [of comfort] to actually call home inside the church. When he found Malinda, it was something he could relate to, and wanted to work on and build a relationship. He just fail short."

All of the actors agree that the script spoke to them in different ways. Malinda said she was drawn to the role because of the responsibility associated with it, and being a voice of domestic violence, championing for women who are silent and living in reclusive shells.

“I wanted to go away. It made me feel uncomfortable,” Malinda, recalled. “I didn’t really know that I wanted to address myself in a world of tragedy. Then, that [discomfort] was the thing that made me say, ‘If you feel uncomfortable in your work, always do the thing that makes you feel uncomfortable, or challenge you.’ Also, if you feel the sense of responsibility, that you are qualified to play this role authentically and you can send a message or a wakeup call to people that finds themselves in these circumstances then, your work has purpose, and that’s always my goal.”

Tobias said that once he learned that Malinda was in the starring role, he was on-board.

“I’m going through a physical transition into a vegan lifestyle and with that kind of discipline comes a higher mental awareness and a higher spiritual awareness, and with Dre being in the church, it was kinda like a perfect fit. I noticed with myself a lot of the times, and I’m sure this has happened with Malinda and McKinley, we are going through things in our own lives that reflect in our work immediately because we are spiritually in a space that we are available to do the work. It’s just as Malinda said, having an authentic purpose towards the work, [and] that makes sense to the character that goes and relates to the audience. It just fit for me. It wasn’t too much of an issue, and especially knowing Malinda was there. Then, I got a chance to meet McKinley. I was all for it. I was happy to jump in and do this work.”

“I’ll just piggyback of Tobias,” McKinnley spoke up. “Being able to work with a phenomenal, transformative actress like Malinda, was actually all I needed to know.”

‘A part from the role and with Malinda being a magnet for this whole thing, there is also this whole part that we have this conversation at the table. Everybody went around the table… Malinda said this a few times about the idea of wanting to be a separation. She said, ‘You really don’t have to look that hard to see someone that’s been affected and someone whether physical, emotional, or mental abuse. With that so close to the surface of the skin of our respective lives, this is an opportunity for me to really be able to dig in. Even as crazy as my character is, the ability to recognize that there is a point of view necessary for the whole part of this story to be understood. I’ve always believed that when you see something, a good piece of art, no matter where you see it, you get an extra pair of glasses to carry around [with you] for the rest of your life that will prevent you from seeing the world from the way you seen it. Ideally, what I hope this movie does is shove as many people into a conversation, that they may need to have. It’s sitting in that living room, and being uncomfortable [while having the conversation] because that’s the reality of the people that’s so far in the situation already [that they don’t see a way out]. This amazing thing is recognizing the vehicle, to start conversations about very important topics that affect people’s lives on the regular basis.”

Both McKinley and Tobias acknowledged Malinda as being the vet, who could teach them more while on set. With their method acting as well as their chemistry, they highlighted love, affliction, and alarm brilliantly within their characters.

As far as abusive relationships and the difficult conversations when walking into something that’s dramatically life altering,and how it tied into the LOVED TO DEATH ensemble, it all bounced back to denial and self-love, which all three actors agree that this is one of the main reasons that men and women ignore the red flags. According to Malinda, McKinley, and Tobias, it’s important to become an accountability partner for friends and family, who aren’t afraid to point out that there is something wrong inside that relationship. Love, is blinding, and most people choose to see the best in their partners versus the reality of their partners. Often times, it’s fear—Fear will hold a man or woman captive in a relationship that they probably should’ve left in the early stages, so men and women make excuses for their abuser whether verbal or physical, because it becomes the normal.

“There’s so much stuff happening the world,” said McKinley, “that we forget how powerful the now moment is. History is something that we been through and the future is something of far off and it can’t be formed, but in this present moment, where you can recognize the power of this conversation, it can start from this movie. It really performs into the cast, that low-key, wraps in an unsuspecting package of opportunity for your now to begin a different future. That’s the most powerful thing in the world because in the now, eternity is resting in the opportunity for this one choice to change your life. That one choice will begin. It plays a different path than the one someone got into. We get a chance to talk on the phone about this in retrospect, and talk about how distinctive it is. In the time that it took us to shoot this movie a year ago, all we had to do today is [have a conversation]… There are real people living the real life seconds of this movie, and that’s why it’s important. That’s why for me, Malinda and Tobias, when we started shooting this movie, I got to work early and I said, “Hi,” to everybody and I didn’t speak to anyone out of character until the day was over. I’m giving you the extent that its necessary for this thing to be as real as possible for everybody that created it and put their heart and soul into it, because it’s important."

Loved To Death | Premieres Sunday, July 21 @ 8 p.m. ET/7C

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