Hallmark Hall of Fame Presents "Firelight"

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Academy Award-Winner Cuba Gooding Jr. Stars in New Movie Premiering Sunday, April 22 on ABC

"Firelight" Hallmark Hall of Fame movie

"Firelight" Hallmark Hall of Fame movie

“When I read the script, I was so moved by what D.J. accomplished with these young women. He had so much understanding, so much compassion. He changed so many lives, in such profound ways."
-- Cuba Gooding Jr.

Academy Award-winner Cuba Gooding Jr. ("Jerry Maguire," "Red Tails") stars in a new Hallmark Hall of Fame film, "Firelight," which will premiere on ABC Sunday, April 22, 2012, 9-11 p.m. ET/PT. Darnell Martin ("Cadillac Records," Hallmark Hall of Fame’s "The Lost Valentine") directs from a script by Ligiah Villalobos ("Under the Same Moon").

Cuba Gooding Jr. plays Dwayne Johnson (D.J.) a counselor at a women’s correctional center who dedicates his professional life to helping young people reclaim their own self-respect through selfless service to others. D.J. encourages the women to join an elite team that fights forest fires and assists civilian victims of natural disasters.

A talented group of actors portray the young women, who have made mistakes in the past, and are paying the price. They include Q’orianka Kilcher (who played Pocahontas in Terrence Malick’s "The New World"), DeWanda Wise ("Precious: Based on the Novel by Sapphire") and Rebecca Rivera (making her film debut).

Describing the role he plays, Cuba Gooding Jr. says, “When I read the script, I was so moved by what D.J. accomplished with these young women. He had so much understanding, so much compassion. He changed so many lives, in such profound ways.

“Even though these young women may have done some bad things, they’re not bad people. They did things in their past that were selfish and self-centered, but they can turn their lives around – and D.J. certainly helps them do that.”

Speaking of his young co-stars, Gooding adds, “These young actors blew me away. I’m seeing performances that remind me of young Meryl Streep, young Halle Berry. There is so much truth in their performances. It’s taken my breath away several times.”

Also interviewed on the film’s set (in Conyers, Georgia), director Darnell Martin says when she first read the "Firelight" script, it resonated. “I immediately connected with both the theme and the characters,” she says.

“Here is a group of young women full of life-affirming potential who just need some guidance and some love to be set free so they can accomplish great things.

“D.J., really, is a beacon of hope to and for these young women. Sometimes all it takes is one person to light the way, and in our story D.J. is that person. Thanks to his presence and guidance, these young women come to realize they do have inner strength, they do have a future.”

Multi-Grammy Award-winner Alicia Keys is executive producer of "Firelight," as are Mary Martin ("Finding a Family") and Brent Shields ("A Smile as Big as the Moon"). It is from Hallmark Hall of Fame Productions, in association with AKW Passion Projects, blackbird fly entertainment and MBK Entertainment.

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