"'Emanuel' spreads an important message about the power of forgiveness."
Warriors star Steph Curry said that about his latest off-court project as an executive producer of the film "Emanuel." Curry wanted to be a part of a special project and despite seeming like it took an eternity to make, it was absolutely worth it.
The film is based on a tragedy -- the massacre shooting in Charleston, S.C. -- but ends up in forgiveness, something that was the root of inspiration for film director Brian Ivie.
Ivie was on his honeymoon as he stood on the balcony and gazed out to the ocean. It was a beautiful day on the heels of the happiest moment of his life but his wife, Amanda, was in tears.
"She was weeping," Ivie told NBC Sports Bay Area. "She was watching something on her laptop and she turned to me and said 'Nine people just got shot during their bible study.'"
Ivie said it was a unique occasion where one of the greatest moments of his life collided with one of the worst.
"And then she said, 'You don't understand, they're forgiving him," Ivie explained. Amanda flipped the laptop around to a clip. The family members were forgiving the murderer just 48 hours after the massacre that occurred at the Charleston, S.C. church that left nine dead.
Ivie, a film director, knew this story needed to be told and he explained that to his wife. He remembers telling her out loud that when this story is retold, he hopes the forgiveness aspect is not left out. It didn't take long until he wanted to be a part of it, but he wanted to wait a year so he didn't seek opportunity on a subject so sensitive. But it had to be done.
Ivie was a bit reluctant to approach Curry in the beginning to be a part of this project.
"At first I thought he was reluctant because he didn’t have time or because it was a small film but I learned it was because he had a history, he grew up in the church and it was just too close to home for him," Ivie explained.
Someone from Sony ended up coming to a screening and after the film, ran up to Ivie, gave him a big hug and knew that Curry -- who the Sony employee knew was starting a production company -- had to see this.
The Warriors' star point guard watched it on the road.
"I think for [Steph] it was as a man of faith this was the kind of faith he wanted to be about, which is a faith that it lives in the real world and deals with real issues it’s still messy it’s hard but it preserves," Ivie said. "And so for him, it was like this represents me and my brand and what I want to do in Hollywood and so he jumped on board."
In addition to his six-All-Star selections, three NBA championships, husband, son and father -- Curry had a new title: Executive producer of "Emanuel," along with actress Viola Davis and co-producer/actress Mariska Hargitay.
Curry's part of the film was more than what one would anticipate being an executive producer. He didn't want anyone to forget about the story.
"Because we see so many of these mass shootings all the time but this one was defined by the redemptive acts of love that were shown in response and it’s been a big part of the healing," Ivie said. "I think for Steph it’s kind of like that’s what he likes you know?"
Ivie also said the film was a great representation of Curry's heart. Curry will not be part of any business decision unless it's something that represents him as a person. Those around him, like his Warriors teammates, say he's great to work with.
"It's very, very easy," said Jeron Smith, CEO of Unanimous Media (Curry's media company).
"Stephen is incredibly consistent. He knows who he is and he’s comfortable in his own skin. It’s very easy for him to digest an opportunity and know if it fits and is authentic to who he is," Smith said.
That's because the new media opportunity comes from three important focal points: Faith, family and sports.
Is there anything Steph can't do? The short answer is no, Smith indicated, but he humored me a bit.
"Oh man, that’s a question you’d probably have to ask him because if you ask me, I honestly think ... I hate doing this because people think I’m biased but I think Stephen is like the most incredible person on the planet. He 100 percent is special, God has 100 percent blessed his life and you know he’s blessed but when you get to know him you understand why he’s blessed."
Blessed indeed. Through it all has been his mother, Sonya. She's seen it all and felt it all, but this was a special moment for her. Upon watching the film, Sonya said it was one of the proudest moments she had as a mom.
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"It was very humbling," Ivie said about Sonya. "It was really cool because she spent a lot of time with my wife at the event and what I love about Steph is he just doesn’t look through anybody. You’re the most important person in the world when he’s with you and I think, I love his heart and to me because of course I agree wholeheartedly it’s not just about his brand I wanted him to be a part of this because of who he is and what he represents to the world and for his mom to say that given everything he’s accomplished it’s absolutely mind-blowing to me but I think it’s because she saw him on stage standing up and talking about the film and talking about his faith and for her that’s who she is as well. It was a really cool moment ... I mean honestly all of this is still a blur."
The film will be shown in theaters on June 17 and 19. Each interview from the survivors' families will leave you teary-eyed, yet hopeful.