Homecoming at Florida A&M University is known to have a ton of surprises, and this year’s theme of “A Different World” definitely delivered a host of them.
FAMU’s own Will Packer, an Emmy nominated producer known for films such as “This Christmas” and “Think like a Man,” was happy to be home as he celebrated the release of his new movie, “Almost Christmas.”
“This is where I actually came into being, as the Will Packer that most people know,” Packer said. “I consider it home because it really is where I came into myself, as a young black man figuring out my place in America, in the society. That was all defined here.”
On this trip to the Hill, Packer brought along with him Omar Epps, Romany Malco, and DC Young Fly. As it was their first time to campus, they were eager to have the full FAMU experience.
“I’m so proud to let these brothers experience what I know. We did a roundtable with some of the members of various organizations and then we got a little taste of Set Friday. They think they know, but they don’t know about it,” said Packer.
This trip was very important for Packer because he wanted the students to see successful black men and get a chance to interact with them. This also translates into the films that Packer produces. He wants his films to convey positive images of African American families, which is exactly what “Almost Christmas” portrays.
“My experience was crazy,” said DC Young Fly on his role in his first major film. “First of all, I’m around a number of A-list actors. Sometimes I would get caught up watching them work, and they would be like ‘DC you got lines!’ and I would be like ‘Oh, my bad my bad!’”
The set of “Almost Christmas” was filled with laughter from those like Mo’Nique and J.B. Smoove. The cast bonded in such a way that new family was born. “It was just so much love. It was a great project [with] some great scripts, so there was nothing forced in that way creatively. Though it is about family, it kind of had that vibe anyway,” said Epps.
“Will always has a good set. A tightly run set creates a great foundation for creativity, because when you have happy actors, you have a happy crew. Everybody just gives it their all,” said Romany Malco. “The thing that really stood out to me on this particular set was that every individual was allowed to be themselves.”
Packer and cast also attended several tailgates before attending FAMU’s homecoming football game against Hampton University. They spoke with several students and took a tremendous number of photos.
Their visit truly inspired the students to reach their goals, just as DC Young Fly has and continues to do. “First of all, just stay down,” he said about his advice to millennials on living out their dreams. “Pray, and work hard for what you pray for. It’s not easy. Don’t be scared to be yourself. You have to take from it, learn from it, and move on.”
“Almost Christmas” makes its debut on Nov. 11 in theaters everywhere.