Safety cast on the real-life story of Clemson University football player Ray McElrathbey

Credit: Disney

Safety is a sports drama inspired by the true story of former Clemson University football safety Ray McElrathbey (Jay Reeves), a young man who had to juggle sports, school, a relationship, and caring for his 11-year-old brother Fahmarr (Thaddeus J. Mixson). The film is directed by Reginald Hudlin, and it is now available on Disney+. During the press conference, the cast talked about the film including Corinne Foxx as Ray’s love interest and Hunter Sansone as his friend.

“Ever since day one, I was overwhelmed with excitement,” Reeves said. “It was crazy. I remember reading the description of the role in the story and dropping everything at that moment. As soon as I got the audition material, I was like, ‘Hey guys, I got to go home.’ And all my friends were wondering why I skated out of there. But this story was just so impactful to me that reading the description made me leave everything and go pursue it. So, I’m so grateful to be a part of this project. It’s amazing.”

“I actually didn’t know anything. Going into it, I started my research as soon as I got the material. So, watching YouTube videos and then I followed Ray before I even got the role. I followed him on Instagram just to get a little bit ahead. I really didn’t know anything about it. I just dove in headfirst and got to know this fantastic story.”

The film is based on the true-life story of McElrathbey, and he described how he got started in college football.

“I was born in Chicago, Illinois but was raised in the city of Atlanta,” McElrathbey said about his childhood. “I stayed with various coaches. I bounced around a little bit when I was younger. Clemson came about late in my senior year. I actually attended a football camp at Clemson that my
trainer and some other coaches sponsored for me. And I was able to receive a scholarship while I was there at the camp. Coach Bowden offered me
a scholarship. And Billy Napier was actually a graduate assistant at the time and now he’s the offensive coordinator.”

Thaddeus J. Mixson plays Ray’s younger brother Fahmarr, and he talked about his experience in playing the real-life kid.

“I really wanted to show how Fahmarr felt on screen and just make sure it comes across the right way,” Mixson said. “I didn’t know it was based on a true story until I got on set the first day. So, I started researching and looked at an Oprah Winfrey interview that they had done. I just wanted to try to embody that as much as I could. I actually almost cried from just watching it because you could just see the pain. I know he went through a lot. So yeah, I just wanted to show that on the screen.”

Hunter Sansone plays Ray’s roommate and friend, Daniel.

“Jay and I had the chemistry from day one,” Sansone said. “I always think about our first chemistry read together. I pulled up to a building for an audition, and I was parking my car. 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?’ He was like, ‘Wow, wow, wow. What’s going on here?’ And we automatically had that Daniel/Ray dynamic from day one. It was like, ‘All right, dude. I’ll see you in there. Good luck.’ And sure enough, one thing led to another, and we ended up doing the film together. We really had that chemistry from the beginning.”

Credit: Disney

“The interesting part about my character Kaycee is that she’s one of the characters who’s actually not based on a specific person,” Foxx said. “I remember asking Ray, ‘Hey, who is the real Kaycee?’ And he goes, ‘There’s a lot of girls that are gonna think they’re Kaycee.”

“I was really attracted to the role because I have two little sisters that are 12 and 13-years-old. And I could only imagine what I would do for them. I would do absolutely anything. I think that’s what attracted me to this story and then building out Kaycee. And you know, she is a sports reporter. She’s super persistent. She’s determined. And I’m very similar to her in that way. She’s also a little bit bolder than I am. That was really fun to play with. And
then, obviously the chemistry I have with Jay. We did our chem test, and I remember leaving and going like, ‘That went really well.’ And obviously, it did because I got the role. It was such a great experience. And I was the only girl except for the woman who played Ray’s mother in the cast. And everyone just huddled around me. I felt very safe.”

Safety is now streaming exclusively on Disney+.

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