UB Film Spotlight: “A Perfect Match” In Theaters Friday [First Look Clips]


Starring Terrence J, Cassie Ventura, Donald Faison, Dascha Polanco, Robert Christopher Riley, Lauren London, French Montana, Brandy Norwood, Beau Casper Smart, Timothy DeLaGhetto, with Joe Pantoliano and Paula Patton
Executive Produced by Queen Latifah, Shakim Compere, J. Vincent Reppert, Stephanie Rennie, Jacob York, Lisa Report
Produced by Johnson Chan, Douglas Shaffer, Alex Avant, Yaneley Arty, Otis Best, Paula Patton, Terrence J


Successful Los Angeles talent agent Charlie (Terrence Jenkins) is living the bachelor dream: he owns a stylish house in the Hollywood Hills, enjoys a massive Instagram following for his art photographs and beds one beautiful woman after another. Perfectly happy with his glamorous if shallow existence, Charlie finds himself on the defensive as his best friends Victor (Robert Christopher Riley), Ginger (Lauren London), Rick (Donald Faison) and Pressie (Dascha Polanco), mock his player lifestyle, and his psychotherapist sister Sherry (Paula Patton) tries to uncover the reasons behind his fear of commitment. Convinced Charlie will see the light if he gives monogamy a chance, Victor and Rick dare their buddy to stay faithful to just one woman for the month leading up to Victor and Ginger’s wedding. No sooner does Charlie accept the challenge than sexy stranger Eva (Cassie Ventura) shows up at his favorite juice bar. Following a string of flirtatious texts, Charlie hooks up with the mysterious woman, who insists she just wants some no-strings-attached fun. Much to Charlie’s surprise, he soon finds himself falling hard for Eva, with whom he discovers he has much more in common than just an intense physical attraction. Could it be he has finally found The One? A sexy and insightful contemporary romantic comedy with an unexpected twist, The Perfect Match offers a hilarious look at love and life in the social-media age.

About the Production As soon as Queen Latifah heard the concept for The Perfect Match’s unique plot from her producing partner, Flavor Unit Entertainment Co-CEO Shakim Compere, she was sold on the project. “I loved the role reversal of the two leads,” says the Oscar®nominated, Emmy®-winning singer, actress and producer. “I knew we had to produce this film.” They then teamed up with Johnson Chan and Doug Shaffer of Jorva Entertainment Productions to finance and co-produce the film. Remembering the deft touch director Bille Woodruff brought to her 2005 hit comedy Beauty Shop, Latifah reached out to the Los Angeles-based filmmaker for Flavor Unit’s newest project. “I know he has a great sense of humor and actors respect him.” Woodruff was immediately impressed by the script’s intelligence and humor. “I especially liked that the female character Eva was different than a lot of female characters you see portrayed in romantic comedies. I also knew I’d have a really good time finding great actors who could bring this story come to life.” Beginning with his longtime friends Paula Patton, Donald Faison, Lauren London and Robert Riley, Woodruff assembled an ensemble of uncommonly gifted actors. “I cast people that I thought would gel like real friends and real couples,” Woodruff says. “I cast Robert Riley and Lauren London as Victor and Ginger, a longtime couple who are about to get married, which they embodied perfectly.” Faison and Dascha Polanco portray a married couple who urge Charlie to settle down, even as they grapple with one of the less romantic aspects of domestic bliss. “Rick and Pressie obviously really love each other but they’re trying to start a family, so it’s like, ‘Oh my God if we have to have sex one more time!’ That’s a very real situation for a lot of people. Donald and Dascha really understood how to have fun, but they also get across the realness involved in that relationship.”

Playing the Player
The Perfect Match rises and falls on the handsome shoulders of Charlie, played by Terrence Jenkins. The personable actor, a former BET host and “E! News” anchor, embraced the opportunity to showcase a wide range of emotions in his first leading-man role. “Charlie’s a complex character,” says Jenkins. “He’s an agent, so his day-to-day life moves really fast. But he’s also got a lot of emotional baggage that he’s dealing with. As you watch his trajectory at the agency and in his relationship with Eva, you really see him start to mature. What I loved about playing Charlie is that the guy we see in the opening scene in this movie is so much different from the guy we see at the end.”

Jenkins, who also serves as a producer on the film, sees Charlie as a variation on the smooth-talking movie characters he grew up idolizing. “My favorite movie of all time is Boomerang, which has Eddie Murphy as an advertising executive,” Jenkins says. “Jerry Maguire and Ari Gold from ‘Entourage’ are other examples. As a student of these films, it was a dream come true for me to show some love for those classics by embodying the life of a high-powered agent.” Charlie’s life isn’t all work, however. Before he meets Eva, he enjoys a series of steamy, if fleeting encounters with gorgeous girls he meets around town. Jenkins relied on director Woodruff to ensure the sex scenes were hot but tasteful. “Bille Woodruff’s eccentric and he’s smart and he has a fantastic eye, so I really trusted him,” Jenkins says. “While we’re doing these scenes, I’m walking around with my butt out saying, ‘Bille, is this gonna look good?’ And Bille’s like, ‘Trust me, I have a vision.’ Especially on those days when you’re half naked, it’s really important to know Bille has your back.”
All About Eva Filmmakers needed a mesmerizing talent to play the woman who rocks Charlie’s world. “We did an extensive casting process to find the right woman to play Eva because she had to really make Charlie go crazy,” explains actor and producer Jenkins. “Like Zooey Deschanel from 500 Days of Summer or Robin Givens’ character in Boomerang, Eva needed to be drop-dead gorgeous and also have a sense of wonder around her.” After going through traditional casting lists, Woodruff, Jenkins and the producers at Latifah’s Flavor Unit Entertainment expanded their talent search. “We looked at musicians and fashionistas and models,” Jenkins says. “At some point Yaneley Arty from Flavor Unit suggested Cassie Ventura.” The producers quickly learned that Ventura, a Filipino-African-American-West Indian-Mexican beauty from Connecticut, had been taking acting lessons and was eager to audition. Although the singer and model only had a handful of acting credits on her résumé, her natural charisma won over the filmmakers. “The minute Cassie came into the room, everybody was like, ‘Alright, she’s it,’” Jenkins says. “Cassie is undeniable on camera.” Jenkins predicts a bright future for Ventura once audiences see her in The Perfect Match. “Cassie brings this sense of mystery to her character that I think will have people talking about her when they leave the movie theater,” he says. “She really steals the show and from a producer’s standpoint, you can’t ask for anything more from your leading lady. Cassie kills it.”

Sister Knows Best Until Eva comes along, the most important woman in Charlie’s life is his psychotherapist sister Sherry, played by Paula Patton. Painfully aware of his inability to commit to a long-term relationship, Sherry tries to convince her brother to get to the heart of the issue. “Sherry is not judgmental,” says Patton. “But even though she has had many failed relationships of her own, she’s willing to be vulnerable over and over again. She’s just trying to get her brother to be vulnerable at least once.” Patton, who first met Jenkins when he appeared in her 2013 rom-com Baggage Claim, reveled in her interplay with the actor. “Terrence is a really hard worker but more than that, he’s got this natural, honest quality and that’s what makes him such a great leading man: Anybody could invite Terrence to dinner and know that he’d be good company.” Jenkins’ likeability as a person goes a long way toward making his womanizer character sympathetic. “You know there’s a warm, genuine, kind spirit underneath all of that,” Patton says. Jenkins confides that he developed a crush on Patton when she appeared opposite Denzel Washington in the 2006 movie Déjà Vu. So naturally he savored the opportunity to act opposite the dazzling Los Angeles native. “I learned so much working with Paula,” he says. “The way she looks at you in the eye without breaking contact, she really has a way of capturing you. After one scene, she brought so much life to her performance that I told her, ‘You took my soul.’ It was great to have Paula on this movie because in many ways, she was our heavy hitter.”
Couples Therapy When he’s not getting relationship counseling from his sister, Charlie can count on plenty of unsolicited advice from the two couples who’ve known him since childhood. They include Pressie, portrayed by Dascha Polanco. Married for years to Donald Faison’s easy-going Rick, Pressie wants to start a family but is having trouble getting pregnant. “That’s an issue a lot of couples can relate to,” says Polanco, known for her breakthrough performance as Dayanara Diaz in the Netflix prison drama “Orange Is the New Black.” “Sometimes when you have a serious issue, if you make it light, people can connect with it more. Pressie wants to have a baby, so by adding comedy to her frustrations we were able to lighten up the situation and make it entertaining.” Based in New York, Polanco remembers arriving in the Hollywood Hills to shoot her first scene in the film — a night-time confrontation at Charlie’s house. “We broke the ice quite nicely,” she says. “Lauren London ordered fried chicken, so there was food, there was a little drinking, it was a little bit of a party. For me it was like ‘Welcome!’ and I think all the actors felt the same way. ‘Okay, as characters we’ve known each other for a long time, we’re going to have an argument, we’re going to hate each other and this will be our first scene!’” Director Woodruff fostered that relaxed rapport among cast members throughout the shoot, according to Polanco. “Bille allows you to play,” she says. “He’s very open to feedback and he let me develop the character in such a way that I felt comfortable discussing ideas. For me it was enticing to really become part of the creative process.”

French Montana and Brandy Since Charlie’s work life revolves around show business, the filmmakers decided to bring in some actual music stars to play his clients. “We felt like we should get a real rapper to play the guy that Charlie’s trying to sign,” Woodruff says. “When we got Cassie Ventura in the film, she was like, ‘Well what about French Montana? He’s a character, man, you’ve got to meet him.’” The Moroccan-born rapper had no reservations about playing the comedic role to the hilt and sharing the limelight with a trained monkey who serves as his character’s confidante and advisor. “French was 100 percent totally game for the whole idea of playing an over-the-top rapper,” Woodruff says. “He didn’t mind making fun of himself. He was like, ‘Yeah, I want the monkey in it.’ Once we met, I couldn’t imagine the part being played by being anyone else.” In The Perfect Match, Charlie’s known around the office as the “Diva Whisperer” because of his ability to soothe the nerves of the hilariously high-strung singer Avatia. To cast the cameo, Woodruff called on multi-platinum R&B singer Brandy Norwood. “Because of a scheduling issue, we needed someone to come in at the last minute and do the scene,” Woodruff recalls. “Terrence and I called Brandy at four in the morning and we were like, ‘Would you please do this for us?’ We pitched her the whole movie, and then we told her: ‘The thing is, we need you to be on set in three hours.’” Norwood kindly agreed and Woodruff set to work tailoring the scene for her. “I rewrote it that morning because it became a whole different thing with her in it,” he says. “Then the amazing Kali Hawk showed up to play Brandy’s assistant and it all came together.” In addition to French Montana and Brandy, other celebrities pop up throughout the movie including Robin Givens, “Basketball Wives” reality-TV star Draya Michele and Internet sensation Timothy DeLaGhetto. “We made a lot of casting decisions so people in the audience would get that warm and fuzzy feeling of seeing someone they know and love but didn’t expect to see,” Jenkins says. “We want people to say, ‘Hey, there’s Timothy DeLaGhetto, I follow that guy on YouTube!’” Improv and Hoverboards Building on the jokes laid out in The Perfect Match screenplay, Woodruff encouraged cast members to improvise whenever inspiration struck. “When you get somebody like Donald Faison on the set, you’re going to have all kinds of ad libs,” Woodruff says. “Donald’s hilarious.” Unexpected laughs also came from dancer-turned-actor Beau Casper Smart, who plays Charlie’s smarmy colleague Abram. “Casper danced in the sequel to Honey, the first film I directed,” Woodruff explains. “I offered him a speaking role in The Perfect Match because I thought he had something special. When he rolled into the table read on a hoverboard, I was like, ‘What is that thing?’ When he told me he wanted his character to ride it in the film, I said, ‘Dude, that will never work. You’re not going to hit your marks, you’re going to be falling all over the place, it’s going to take up too much time and we’re on a tight schedule.’ He was so persistent I finally told him I’d give him one chance to make it work.” The hoverboard-riding jerk ended up being one of the film’s funniest running gags. “Casper turned out to be amazing on that thing: backwards, forwards, everything. And all the other actors are asking me, ‘Where did you get this guy? He’s so good at being an asshole.”
Many Shades of Color Along with Lionsgate’s Codeblack Films, executive producer Queen Latifah and her Flavor Unit Entertainment team orchestrated The Perfect Match to showcase an diverse array of vibrant talents. “With all the conversations about diversity in Hollywood, now more than ever it’s important to inspire young, aspiring filmmakers to produce and create their own content and not wait on other people to tell our stories,” Jenkins says. “On The Perfect Match, we have black producers, we have a black director, there are dark-skinned people, light-skinned people, so many different shades of color. For me as a producer, it was important to take matters into our own hands.” Polanco also appreciated the diverse mix brought together for The Perfect Match. “I liked that we had African-Americans and Latinos creating the entertainment in this movie,” she says. “It’s like there was this rainbow array of different artists, new actors, personalities and musicians all coming together for the production, and it’s one of the things I loved about The Perfect Match.”

A Love Letter to L.A.
While The Perfect Match deals in universal relationship issues, the particulars of the story are very much rooted in the hills, beaches and boulevards of contemporary Los Angeles. “I loved the idea that L.A. is really kind of a character in this movie,” says Woodruff. “I talked to our DP Tommy Maddox-Upshaw about making this a love letter to L.A. through what we were doing visually. Because I’ve lived here for quite some time, I wanted to include a lot of things from my real life in the movie.” Postcard-pretty locations include Manhattan Beach, where Charlie goes to meet women, take photographs and relax. “That whole strip you see in the opening of the film is the Strand in Manhattan Beach,” Woodruff says. “Whenever I have time, especially on a Sunday, I’m riding my bike or jogging there.” The Hollywood Hills compound that functions as Charlie’s bachelor lair also resonated on a personal level for Woodruff. “Charlie’s house in Nichols Canyon is not far from the first place I lived in L.A. when I moved from Atlanta.” Jenkins, who was born in New York and raised in North Carolina, has lived for the past several years in Los Angeles and enjoyed the luxury of filming on home turf. “So many films nowadays are filmed in Toronto, Atlanta, all over the world that it’s almost become rare to shoot a movie in Hollywood,” he says. “It was great to show what Los Angeles looks like in a fresh way, in the present day, where we’re talking about social media, talking about the real things happening in the city.” Local settings ranged from a deluxe pastry shop hawking $6,000 wedding cakes to a Sunset Boulevard taco stand and a legendary L.A. burger joint. “One of my favorite scenes is when Cassie and I are walking out of a Fatburger on Santa Monica Boulevard,” Jenkins says. “You can just feel the texture of the town, and that really helps make this movie a unique experience.” New York-based actress Polanco found herself slightly intimidated by the setting for Charlie’s sleek home. “It was scary for me because I don’t like being all the way up in the hills where they have mountain lions and coyotes,” she says. “I can’t run down the hill in the dark if the coyotes come and get me!” On the other hand, the actress was impressed with the Los Angeles landmark her character visits in an effort to spice up her sex life. “Shopping at the Pleasure Chest with ‘Ginger’ was so much fun,” she says. “It was like ‘Oh my God!’ There were so many sex toys, so many things that the people who work there were teaching us. That was a great experience.”
A High-Gloss Finish Woodruff worked with director of photography Tommy Maddox-Upshaw to give the film’s Los Angeles settings a glamorous sheen. “We wanted The Perfect Match to have this glossy kind of look when it made sense,” Woodruff observes. “Instead of the over-lit happy look you get in a lot of romantic comedies, we were going for something more stylish. We extended that with Niko Vilaivongs’ production design and the costume design by Janelle Carothers so that everything lends itself to this more glamorous, fashion-forward feeling.” For producer-actress Patton, born and raised in Los Angeles, The Perfect Match presents West Coast life at its most picturesque. “Bille and Tommy did a wonderful job of bringing out this kind of warm glow you get from the California sun,” she says. “The movie gives you a window onto what you’d want to see and experience as the best of L.A.” Throughout the movie, Woodruff and Maddox-Upshaw imbued the cinematography with the kind of lush elegance rarely seen in rom-coms. “I wanted to do some of the scenes in the style of a Calvin Klein commercial,” Woodruff says “When Charlie and Eva are at the pool at his house we do this beautiful wide shot, and then we move closer so you can see the infinity pool and the Los Angeles skyline in the background. I wanted it to look like the Chanel No. 5 commercials I remember from when I was a kid. It’s aspirational and sexy.”

Not Just a Chick Flick Witty, insightful, erotic and dramatic, The Perfect Match updates the romantic comedy tradition by casting a fresh eye on the perils and rewards of relationship commitments circa 2016. “A movie like this is meant to uplift your soul and have you leave the theater smiling,” says actress Patton. “Also, there’s a lot of steamy stuff going on between Charlie and Eva, who are absolutely gorgeous and very convincing. For me, The Perfect Match is about good times. It should turn you on and make you laugh.” Polanco believes the joyful process of making the movie is clearly reflected in the final product. “I see this as a fun, light-hearted movie about being single and it’s also about different types of relationships,” she says. “It’s got good moments of music and there’s also a little karma lesson in there. In some ways, The Perfect Match is a chick flick, but it could also be a guy flick/double-date kind of thing. There are a lot of goodlooking girls in this movie!” At its core, The Perfect Match generates laughs and a few poignant moments by following the journey of one charming man who finally meets his match. “This movie shows all the things that happen to my character from the first date to the crash and burn,” Jenkins says. “People might walk into The Perfect Match thinking it’s just gonna be another boy-meets-girl, happily-ever-after rom-com. But you know what? This is not a traditional love story.”

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