“Red Tails” is based on the true story of the Tuskegee Airman (nicknamed the Red Tails), the first all-African-American aerial combat unit to serve in World War II while the group is stationed in Italy in 1944. The Tuskegee Airman given second-rate operations, but the pride of the pilots does not diminish as they fight to prove their merit to be considered equals with their Caucasian counterparts. Against the odds, the Red Tails quickly make a name for themselves, but sometimes have to fight tension within their own ranks.
“Red Tails” (directed by Anthony Hemingway) was developed for about 23 years by executive producer George Lucas before the movie made its way into theaters. The film’s ensemble cast includes Nate Parker, David Oyelowo, Terrence Howard, Cuba Gooding Jr., Ne-Yo, Elijah Kelley and Tristan Wilds, who all play Tuskegee Airman. At the “Red Tails” press junket in New York City, “Red Tails” co-stars Gooding, Wilds, Kelley and Ne-Yo sat down together for this roundtable interview with journalists. Here is what they said.
Can each of you describe your “Red Tails” character?
Gooding: I play Major Emmanuelle Stance. My character gives these young men guidance, proper training, encouragement and send them off into their war machines.
Ne-Yo: I play Andrew “Smokey” Salem. Smokey is kind of — I hate to call him the “comedy relief” of the film, but he’s the more lighthearted part of the seriousness of what’s going on there.
Kelley: My character’s name is Samuel “Joker” George. Ne-Yo and I started to have sort of a bond on screen, so we’re the Southern guys who come in and bring levity to a very, very serious situation. I’m also a go getter, a “gun ‘em” type of fighter, and I just want everybody to have an incredible time.
Wilds: My character is Raymond Gannon. They call him Junior. I’m the youngest pilot on the plane. I’m basically the young guy, the small man on the totem pole. I’m just trying to fight for respect from my older “brothers.”
For more info: “Red Tails” website