JIS News

It is not often that a first time filmmaker is able to tout his work’s potential and prospects several months before its release.
However, New York-based independent film producer Bud Rebel is doing just that, with his debut project, a family comedy titled All Screwed Up.
The primary reason for his enthusiasm is the lead character in the film, Chyna Layne, an actress who was born in New York to a Jamaican father and a Filipino mother. Chyna’s star is rising so fast that Rebel is convinced her presence in his movie will go a long way towards aiding this film’s artistic and commercial possibilities.
Chyna Layne was a respected but relatively unknown talent when the producer auditioned her for her role as awkward teenager, Teenisha Flowers in All Screwed Up. Bud and his Director, Neil Stephens were sure they had found their leading lady the minute she walked through the door.
“There was just something magical about her that set her apart from all the other actresses we saw,” Rebel recalls, adding, “It’s one of those moments you pray for as a production team, where everyone in the room agrees unanimously that she’s special. If you look at what has happened since, we were absolutely right.”
Since she shot All Screwed Up in 2006 Chyna Layne has blazed a path to success that has industry insiders predicting an exceptionally exciting future for her. In 2007, she offered a heart wrenching performance as Deyah Kingston, a Jamaican woman afflicted with HIV in HBO’s highly praised film, Life Support, opposite Queen Latifah.
She has a featured role in the musical biopic, Cadillac Records, premiering in December, which also features Oscar winner Adrien Brody, Jeffrey Wright, and pop singer/actress Beyonce Knowles.
In 2009 she will be seen in a leading role in the greatly anticipated drama, Push, directed by the acclaimed Lee Daniels (Producer of Halle Berry’s Oscar winning film, Monster’s Ball).
With All Screwed Up also slated for 2009 release, Layne will be in the enviable position of headlining two major releases in one year. This is a remarkable achievement for an actress of color whose career is yet so young.
In All Screwed Up, the usually glamorous Layne tackles a role that marks a total change of pace for her. Her character, Teenisha Flowers, is an unpopular teenager with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), whose loneliness drives her to acquire an unusual pet- an insect known as the Namibian Elephant Beetle.
Unbeknownst to her, the beetle has the power to transfer the soul and personality of one person to another with just a bite. When the beetle bites both Teenisha and her neighbor, a hunky high school basketball jock named Pete (played by Jake Waldman), chaos ensues.
Layne has stated that the role of Teenisha was one with which she could readily identify, as she herself was often teased and bullied in school.
Rebel was impressed with Chyna’s ability to tap into her own emotions and find the humor and pathos in many of the movie’s scenes.
“Yes, it’s a comedy, but with a more serious, underlying message, that sometimes you have to quite literally live in somebody else’s shoes to appreciate what their life is like,” he says. “She captured that so well. Once we started shooting we were all impressed with her dedication and her passion for the most intricate character details. It was clear to everyone who worked on the film that she was going to go very, very far.”
As Rebel gears up for the premiere of All Screwed Up next year, he continues to watch Chyna’s career with almost paternal pride, fondly referring to the day he met her two years ago as his ‘Chyna day.’
In a business in which timing is everything, he managed to find the right actress for the right role at the right time. He is now betting that the magic Chyna Layne has brought to all her roles will work wonders for his film as well.