"BMF" premieres tonight at 9 p.m. on STARZ. I had the opportunity to participate in the show's press junket as part of the Multicultural Media & Correspondents Association's screener with the network to get an early look.
Participating in that screener and watching "BMF" made me reflect on my experience growing up as a Black woman and the developmental experiences of Black children across America.
The eight-episode series is inspired by the true story of two brothers who rose from the decaying streets of southwest Detroit in the late 1980s and gave birth to one of the most influential crime families in the country known as the 'Black Mafia Family.'
"BMF" features Demetrius 'Lil Meech' Flenory Jr., the real-life son of Demetrius 'Big Meech' Flenory, as his father in his acting debut and Da'Vinchi as Terry 'Southwest T' Flenory.
The show unintentionally gives us a look into how success was painted for Black children in America in the 1980s that can still be seen today. The “American Dream” for people growing up in the hood often looked like being a drug dealer: Being clean, friendly and giving, but also dangerous.
The Flenory brothers represent an honest truth that not all people who get involved with drug trafficking come from a single-parent home or a home where the parents are not involved in their child's life. Parents Charles and Lucille Flenory, respectively played by Russell Hornsby and Michole Briana White, are depicted as loving their children while maintaining strict standards within their household.
I'm a Dayton, Ohio, native and was in middle school when the Black Mafia Family was at its peak, yet I was unaware of the impact the syndicate was having in my hometown. I grew up in Dayton View, a neighborhood where young women had to balance their femininity with toughness to convey they were not to be messed with. I found Kato, played by Ajiona Alexus, to be a relatable character who showed femininity and toughness as the sole woman in the core "BMF" group.
“It was really like life or death for me when I first started," said Flenory Jr. during the press junket. "Especially being my first time ever acting, I had to learn how to act, really learn the foundation of acting, really learn how to tie my emotions to scenes and be able to be my dad but still be me."
Executive producer Randy Huggins said the show extols the importance of family in any culture.
“The series is about family. It’s about love for one another," he said. "It’s really about where they come from, southwest Detroit. That was the backdrop behind their story and ultimately it really is about brotherhood. I think it is a universal story about love that I hope every nationality can relate to. Every family, no matter your socioeconomic status, hopefully you will be able to see yourself in these characters that we created and the wonderful actors we chose to bring to life.”