“Fruitvale Station” and the Oscar Grant case, which resulted in a conviction, has parallels to the Trayvon Martin case and the George Zimmerman trial going on right now. Both involve young Black male suspects and white law enforcement officers who acted without regard to their suspect’s humanity. (Zimmerman, it should be noted, was a armed night watchman, not a legal law enforcement officer.) Although Mehsherle was convicted at trial, today he is a free man. As Sabrina Fulton, Trayvon’s mother is seeking justice in her son’s murder, so is Wanda Johnson, Oscar’s mother, who Spencer says she was careful to portray in a realistic light, although the two women differ physically.
“I understood the gravity of the situation, because not only did she allow a full film crew into her life, she watched her son’s character suffer so much while the trial was going on,” Spencer says of Johnson. “For some reason, just like with the Trayvon Martin case, they want to focus on the victim and victimize him in a whole ‘nother way. He’s put on trial and not the man who killed him.
I was aware of the loss that she suffered. But Wanda is a very unique woman. She’s poised and she’s very passionate about not letting her son be forgotten. But it’s not like she wears it as a banner. It’s hard to articulate how she affected me and being in her presence and how different we are from each other. I felt honored that she was OK with me playing her because I’m a little heavier around the middle and definitely five feet shorter than she is.”
Spencer, who is now part of Hollywood history as one of the few Black Oscar winners, (She was the Best Supporting Actress in 2012 for her role in “The Help”) says that “Fruitvale Station” is one of several movie options this weekend that include a diverse cast, something she sees as a sign of hope in a notoriously racist industry. “
“I’m so excited about box office for the holiday weekend. We had Kevin Hart going against counter programming and Melissa [McCarthy] and Sandra Bullock doing great at the box office so there’s definitely a slot for diversity and I’m proud of that and I’m excited. And there will be a lot of options this weekend with Idris Elba (“Pacific Rim”) and with Chris Rock. (“Grown Ups 2”).
“Fruitvale Station”” opens in theaters on Friday.