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Beware the Riptides: The Current is Strong for Shreco Bakari

Nathan is a film critic and aspiring author with a true passion for the film industry who hopes his writings will help launch his career.

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It's my absolute honor and a pleasure to interview Shreco Bakari once again as he embarks on a new journey, one that will no doubt impact and (hopefully) change the world. Known for his success in the found-footage horror genre, Shreco is making a career change and focusing on drama for a while with his new, upcoming series Riptides. The show is based on and inspired by real events that happened in Shreco's life.

This is my second interview with him but I can see a completely new side to him. Any time he's had a new project, he's always been excited for the audience to see but with Riptides, his energy is doubled, maybe even tripled. Something about this project has him so happy, so excited, and so in love with life as he embarks into new territory.

I jumped at the chance to interview him because I just had to know what's got him so hyped about this new project. I also had the chance to sit in on a table read for the pilot episode and meet some of the cast. Believe me when I tell you, the world is not ready for what's coming. Riptides is going to shake up TV, the household, and the world and inevitably start conversations with each other that we should have been having a long time ago. Riptides is brave, bold, and it will undoubtedly change the landscape by which we find comfort and pull the sheep's clothing off the many preying wolves that surround us all.


The Interview

Q: Mr. Bakari, it is so wonderful to be able to meet with you again. Last we spoke was for the future of the Ominous Universe and now you’re taking on yet another universe only in the drama genre. That’s impressive to be juggling two universes. Or, are they a shared universe and we just don’t know it yet?

A. That’s crazy you mention that! It was an idea to merge both of them into the same universe however I believe that would be extremely too complex and confusing for many who are not expert cinema viewers or filmmakers. I can say that all of the Ominous Project movies that I’ve made are the main character's films in my series Riptides. Brycelyn is the Filmmaker and Creator of the Ominous Project Universe for the series. It’s nothing too major, just a small Easter egg as a call back to the very beginning of my early work. [The audience] will learn more about his Ominous Project series as the series goes on within Riptides.

Q: So, tell me, why the genre change? Is this a story you’ve been wanting to tell for some time now?

A: I chose the drama genre because I always knew I was an amazing and intense writer. I just transferred my drama projects and turned them into horror/drama if that makes sense. I told myself I would dive into this specific realm of film work one day at full force and I’m finally getting the opportunity to do so. This is a story that I have been waiting to tell for a very long time. This project has been in the making for five, going on six years. I have been through hell and back, major trials and tribulations, backstabbing, hurtful and disrespectful so-called professional actors and actresses, and so much more. By the grace of God I finally have the right cast members, excuse me, the PERFECT cast members and the PERFECT production crew that have helped me finally bring this to life the right way and better than I expected. I’m so glad previous people did not work out whether they dropped out for whatever reason or they were fired. Everything happens the way it is supposed to, and I praise God and thank him every day for removing those people and replacing them with the people I have now. Patience is a virtue I can honestly tell you that, but it is well worth it and God is the only one to thank for that. I love these new cast members and production members more than you know. When God says be patient I promise you he’s going to send you people who are of him and not people who you think you should have.

Q: When we first meet Brycelen, he’s a closeted, fearful young man. Being that this is based on true events from your own life, were you afraid to be open with not only yourself but the public as well? Afraid of persecution from friends and family, perhaps?

A: Absolutely. I was terrified. Completely and utterly terrified. I felt like I was coming out with my sexuality all over again. When we started this in 2017, my cousin Ashley Chanel, who is the producer on the series, I told her I was only gonna make this 10% truth and the rest was going to be dramatized if that makes sense. She told me that she really didn’t agree with me doing that but if it’s what makes me feel comfortable then she’s all for it. However to make a long story short it didn’t work out. I was meant to tell my truth and the whole truth and nothing but the truth. July of this year I ended up scrapping five years worth of hard work and five episodes that I’ve written and completely started from scratch to turn this into the truth that it was meant to be, pertaining to my life. I am so glad and proud of myself and I cannot wait for people to see all of me in this true story-based television series. Don’t get me wrong, this show is not going to be for everybody and that is OK. You have to understand many people may not agree with what you do or agree with how you live, however that doesn’t mean they don’t love you and that doesn’t mean they don’t support you. Everyone has their own thing and everyone has their own beliefs but at the end of the day if you choose to respect that person and support them and love them regardless, that’s all that matters. But I can tell you one thing the show is not just about LGBTQ elements. The show is literally for everyone. The main character just happens to be struggling with his sexuality.

Q: So, looking over the cast list, I’ve noticed there are some we’ve seen before in your Ominous series but there are some new faces as well. Were there some people that you wanted to join you on this project but they couldn’t or did you always have a good idea who you wanted in each role?

A: That is sort of a difficult question if I’m going to be honest. The people I started with back in 2017 of course did not end up coming with me in the year 2022. I have went through a total of three different full cast in the past 5 years. On top of recasting other individuals who were not right for the series due to respect issues, authority issues, and of course the people that think they know everything or they’re better than you. In the end I had to be the bigger person to not talk about the issues I had with certain people and the unprofessionalism and disrespect that I received getting to this moment right now. One thing I can say is that I am so glad that I passed all of my tests that God sent to me dealing with different cast members. You can’t have anything phenomenal without passing your test I can tell you that. If you want something big you better be prepared to have a big test to pass. I am so proud to say that the people that I have now were well worth the trials, tribulations, disrespect and stress that I went through for five years with certain individuals. One thing is very clear, you truly have to be careful on who you bring into your projects. Some people may act like they are truly for you but they are secretly plotting against you, talking about you behind your back to other people within your same cast, trying to see how far you will go to fail, or secretly envious of you to try to copy your style, but in the end Karma handles those people and God elevates his anointed right in front of your enemies. It was all worth it. I have only two cast members who have been with me from the very beginning. Tonya Cole & Eryn Murphy. Words cannot describe how I feel about them. They’ve seen it all since the beginning and they are still here today. So to answer your question, it was my fault for not allowing God to cast my project. I went with who I thought I wanted at the time. This time around I allowed him to bring me who he needed and I can tell you one thing, it is the most beautiful thing and most stress-free thing I have ever experienced. I’m proud with whom I have in my small circle and I won’t be letting any new people in any time soon or rekindling any old familiar faces. My door is locked and God has sent directions that I’m following.

Q: I had the pleasure of sitting in on the table read for the pilot episode. Remarkable, talented young people in your group, however I was drawn specifically to two people: Grae and Palo. So I have to ask, what brought Palo and Grae into your world and why did you choose Palo in particular to play such an intricate role as December?

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A: Grae Jordan was a Phenomenal Actress I met back in the summer of 2021. She was auditioning for the role of Victoria Parker in my sequel film, The Devils Within: Revelations. Unfortunately I had to shelve that film but I did tell her I would contact her if a new project was to come about. We ended up doing Curse of Bloody Mary in the spring of 2022 and she was the stand-out actress in that horror film. I knew I had to bring her on for more projects and this huge television series was the perfect home for her. She plays my best friend in the series and our chemistry together is by far the most authentic and real friendship chemistry you will ever see on television. Palo has been a very special person in my life for a very long time. He’s one of very few people who has a special place in my heart and I’d do anything in the world for him, honestly, because he’s always expressed the same to me. He’s a hip-hop and R&B artist out of Houston, TX and he is about to take the music scene by storm. He was not my first choice for the role of December Miles. If I’m being honest, we went through a total of nearly 6 guys in five years for this role. At the end of February I prayed to God about a few things pertaining to this role and he sent me two people. One person, who I will not name for security purposes because they are somewhat of a main-stream actor, and Palo. The main-stream actor was great and it was what I thought was going to happen. However after prayer, God said “Call Palo. He is your December.”. I called him that same day, pitched the idea to him, and he was sold on the entire thing. I expressed to him how intense and difficult this role would be but he has been learning so much so quickly. I’ve been training him since March of this year and I couldn’t be more proud of him and his growth as an actor. This will be his acting debut. He will also have two songs featured in the pilot episode as well from his new upcoming EP that will be releasing later this year. The passion and romantic value that we share on screen is something I never thought was possible. I cannot see anyone being the December to my Brycelen. It’s...perfect. For a perfect love story. Thank you Palo for...everything and more. I love you more than life itself.

Q: Now, I do remember you telling me you had inspirations in the business, both on-screen and behind the scenes. Who would you love to see have a part in the show?

A: Yes! The biggest inspiration for the series was none other than Issa Rae of Insecure & Rap Sh!t on HBO MAX. Once I saw season one in 2017, I knew that I had to do something pertaining to my life to showcase for entertainment but to also help others as well. If it wasn’t for her and her show, this show would not exist. I’m so thankful for her as an entertainment professional. I truly hope one day soon to really work with her on some of my projects in the future. Hell, it would be dope to have her as an executive producer for the show!

Q: I saw the intro to the show, thank you by the way for showing that to me. It’s such a visually pleasing sequence. I was curious if you were the silhouette and if so, where did you learn to dance with such vigor and passion?

A: Do you know something, everyone thinks that is me dancing in the intro. It’s quite flattering to say the least! I wish I could have those moves like that! I do know how to dance like that, don’t get me wrong however not that professionally. The person dancing in my series intro is none other than Isaiah Givan of Atlanta, GA. We’ve known each other since 2017 and he is finally a professional dancer in the Atlanta area. I love him with all my heart and he’s truly one of the most amazing friends I’ve ever had. I pitched the idea to him and told him I wanted to pay homage to Yevette Lee and the intro to Living Single but for this day and age, generation, but sexy and for adult audiences. He nailed it. It was the sexiest thing I’ve ever filmed in my life. He is just…wow. The intro will be extremely memorable and iconic. I guarantee you. Isaiah, you are one of a kind. I love you so much. Thank you for always believing in me. You have always truly been one of my biggest supporters. You deserve all of the recognition you will receive from this.

Q: Since this show is based in part on your own life, did you find it difficult to write certain scenes? Is it challenging to play the character who is based on you?

A: I did find it a bit difficult to write a few scenes since this entire series is based on the true story of my college life and beyond. At first I did find it difficult to play the character that is literally based off of my life. I almost cast someone else to play this part in 2018, however, my producer Ashley Chanel convinced me otherwise. It took her a month to convince me but she did and this is one of the best decisions acting wise I’ve ever made in my life. As she said, no one can tell your own story better than you can. Reliving a lot of these iconic moments in my life is therapeutic and also a bit terrifying in a sense. However it’s a major healing process as well. I am proud to say that 90% of what I have told so far in the pilot is absolutely true. 90% of the second episode is 100% true as well. I’m going to keep the consistency with honoring my past and helping others to overcome what I’ve been through. All of this in which she will witness has shaped me into the person I am today. I am very proud of myself. I hope many can see themselves in a lot of these characters regardless of their sexual orientation.

Q: If you can’t talk about certain things just yet, that’s completely understandable. I wanted to touch on a specific episode coming up so please, feel free to stop me if this is a breach of any kind. There’s one episode that’s going to be quite controversial when it airs. What is the one thing you hope audiences take from that episode and how do you hope people apply it to their lives moving forward?

A. Absolutely. There is a big controversial episode that will be written and showcased on screens pertaining to Black Lives Matter & school shootings. I want to start a conversation about the real issue. Hopefully this will have many people looking at themselves differently and change for the better. I can tell you this: the episode may say it’s about one race but it is literally about our human race and us as individuals. That’s all I’m going to say for the time being.

Thank you once again for your time and allowing me to talk with you. I look forward to seeing your show and where the future takes you all.

Shreco Bakari as Brycelen and Palo as December

Shreco Bakari as Brycelen and Palo as December

© 2022 Nathan Jasper

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