SAFETY on Disney+ isn’t another sports movie. In fact, I wouldn’t even say sports is the main focus. Just wait until you see all the heart that’s in this film, based on a true story of former Clemson University football safety Ray McElrathbey. It was a joy to be able to participate in a virtual press junket with the cast of Safety, including the real Ray! Here are some facts about Safety on Disney Plus.
SAFETY Press Junket
Here’s who participated in the Virtual Press Junket for SAFETY on Disney Plus.
Jay Reeves (“Ray (Ray-Ray)”)
Thaddeus J. Mixson II (“Fahmarr (Fay)”)
Corinne Foxx (“Kaycee”)
Hunter Sansone (“Daniel Morelli”)
Reginald Hudlin (Director)
Mark Ciardi (Producer)
Ray-Ray McElrathbey (Real life person the story is based on)
It was so fun to have Don Munson, the play-by-play voice for the Clemson Tigers as moderator! I felt like part of the Clemson family, too.
If you want to watch the entire press junket, check out my friend Tessa’s video, below. I’ll also include my favorite highlights from the interview. My burning question – why Ray-Ray’s story?
Why Ray’s Story and Go With Your Gut
I love a good sports story and am a huge sports fan. McFarland, USA and Remember the Titans are two of my favorite films. I often find that athletes are inspirational; they sacrifice a lot for their sport and generally have to be hard-working to be successful.
So I asked Director Reginald Hudlin and Producer Mark Ciardi why did they chose Ray-Ray’s story out of all the stories out there?
Mark: “Wow, well, I guess I can start with that. When this story happened in 2006, that’s when I got a hold of the rights. I watched the national pieces on ESPN and ABC, The Oprah Winfrey Show and I was really, really moved by it. When you can feel something by watching a two- or three-minute clip, you then start to peel back the layers of what the story is. I was just incredibly moved and you just have to go off your gut and your instinct…there’s no real science to it other than your gut.”
Reginald: “I was fortunate enough to benefit from Mark’s hard work over all these years. So I get this script, I’m reading it. Twenty pages in, I stand up, I start pacing around, and my wife was like, “What’s wrong?” I’m like, “This is good.” I just really related to Ray’s story.
I’m from a small town in the Midwest, all black, you know, economically deprived where it takes a lot of energy to escape velocity, to create opportunity for yourself.
Ray had it tougher than most. And he’s the guy who made a way out of no way and the situation with failure was not an option. And I think that’s a really important message.”
One of the best things about the film is the chemistry amongst the cast.
Hunter talked about his with Jay, especially in the first scene.
Hunter: “Jay and I had the chemistry from day one. I always think about our first chemistry read together. I pulled up to a building for an audition. And I was parking my car. And I see him walking into the building. And I’m like, that’s the guy who’s playing Ray.
So, I run up to him. And I’m like, “hey, man, I’m reading for Daniel. How you doing?” We automatically had that Daniel/Ray dynamic from day one.”
Corrine was attracted to the role of Kaycee, because of her two sisters.
Corrine: “I was really attracted to the role, because I have two little sisters that are 12 and 13-years-old. I could only imagine what I would do for them. I would do absolutely anything. And so, I think, that’s what attracted me to this story and then building out Kaycee.”
Safety really is about family – extended family and friends.
For more Safety fun facts about the making of the movie, check out my friend, Tessa’s post! Clemson Tiger fans, Disney’s Safety is for you! Because Clemson is about family.
SAFETY is now streaming on Disney+!
“Safety” is a drama inspired by the empowering story of former Clemson University football safety Ray McElrathbey (Jay Reeves), a young man facing a series of challenging circumstances, whose dedication and persistence help him to triumph over repeated adversities. Aided by his teammates and the Clemson community, he succeeds on the field while simultaneously raising and caring for his 11-year-old brother Fahmarr (Thaddeus J. Mixson).