“Black Mafia Family” star Demetrius “Lil Meech” Flenory Jr. and executive producer Randy Huggins recently talked about the portrayal of characters in the new Starz series executive produced by Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson.
In the series, Flenory plays his real-life father Demetrius “Big Meech” Flenory Sr., one half of the brothers who founded the Black Mafia Family, one of the most influential African-American crime families in history.
“The biggest obstacle I feel like was really buckling down and really understanding what my dad came from,” Flenory Jr. said to Atlanta Black Star on Aug. 20. “I really had to understand his emotions, understand what he was, where his head was at that point in time, and really attach myself emotionally and what I’ve been through in my early years to that so I could have real emotion and all my scenes would look natural and I could be comfortable on set,” he said. Flenory Jr. said by the time they were in the thick of shooting the series, he had really grounded himself in the character. “I was tied to it really emotionally, so every scene I put forth was my all,” he said.
Flenory Jr. said it was important to him to get even the smallest of details right. “I just wanted to make sure, ’cause No. 1, I gotta hear my daddy’s mouth. He’s gonna call me every day after set like ‘Hey, what’s going on, how did it go?’” he said.
“So he wanted to know that certain sh-t would show. To give you an example, the only music they listened to back then was techno, house music — no words. My dad was like, ‘Make sure Randy knows that when we’re in the club, it’s no words and everybody’s just dancing,’” he said. “And just the clothes, my dad was so strict about the clothes,” Flenory added.
Both Flenory Jr. and Huggins added that Big Meech — who is advising on the show from federal prison — was even particular about the way he tied the shoes. “This is the challenge I have in trying to bring this show to reality, because a lot of the fashion, they don’t even make no more,” Huggins said, adding that the series’ wardrobe designer Keia Bounds did an excellent job.
Huggins also said he had to allow the actors a certain amount of versatility in their roles. “I also have to give the actors an opportunity to be themselves in these characters and [Lil] Meech don’t wear his jeans the way his daddy wore his jeans, and he don’t tie his shoes the way his daddy tied his shoes,” Huggins said with a laugh. “So I had to allow creative freedom and flexibility there.”
Huggins also added that even as Big Meech gave his input, his son’s own character came through.
“It’s just funny because I was talking to [Big] Meech like two nights ago, and he was like ‘I only went three laces up, and the [tennis shoe] tongue was out,’ and I was like ‘Well, I tried to tell that to your son, and he was like ‘Man, this is whack, I’m not wearing my shoes like that.’” Huggins said. “We’re there, but there is this creative freedom, and I think that’s what exists throughout our whole project,” Huggins added.
Flenory Jr. praised Huggins for the final product. “Randy is an amazing writer,” he said. “He’s a genius at what he does and he made sure everything was portrayed just as how my dad wanted it, so I know my family would be proud.”
The BMF series is inspired by the true story of two brothers, Demetrius “Big Meech” Flenory and Terry “Southwest T” Flenory, who rose from the decaying streets of southwest Detroit in the late 1980s and gave birth to one of the most notorious drug distribution networks in the country. Beyond the drug trade, the brothers’ influence on hip-hop and culture would cement them as icons across the globe.
The series examines their upbringing, love, their belief in family loyalty, and the ups and downs of their relationship. Filmed in Atlanta and Detroit, Detroit native Randy Huggins (“Star,” “Rebel,” “Power”) serves as executive producer alongside Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson. Tasha Smith (“Empire,” “Power,” “Why Did I Get Married?”) directed some of the episodes.
Black Mafia Family premieres on Sept. 26 at 9 p.m. ET on Starz.