One of the most essential, emotional needs humans have is to be known, to be understood for who we are. Consider how much effort we put into presenting ourselves as successful, attractive, and worthy of acceptance. The harder we chase those goals, the more we mask ourselves in the process. What we present then is not ourselves. We’re further from our goal. We’ve become harder to know.
Earlier this year, Toni Morrison wrote of this dilemma stating, “you are not the work you do; you are the person you are.” Writer/director Anthony Onah knows this truth, too. Like many of us, he’s experienced these challenges and seeks their solutions in his latest film, The Price.
The film’s principal character Seyi Ogunde (Aml Ameen) is a highly motivated financial analyst who has grown weary of others taking credit for his work. His response is to redouble his efforts and with pills, persistence, and proprietary information makes a play to secure his indispensability. His occluded judgement, of course, carries with it consequences that strain relationships with his family and girlfriend, Liz (Lucy Griffiths).
While this might stir up recollections of Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) in Wall Street, it’s that hero-in-need-of-redemption familiarity that Onah leverages in telling a story we haven’t heard, or haven’t paid attention to. No surprise, but Seyi isn’t a white, American name. He and his family are Nigerian and while audiences have long loved blue collar triumph stories, rarely have we seen those about African immigrants. Even rarer have we hoped for their redemption.
Onah gives us an opportunity to do so, and further to reach an understanding of how similar our struggles are regardless of our place of origin. We all have histories and how we deal with them in the present will determine our future. This is true for each one of us and the sooner we can acknowledge the samenesses we share as humans, the sooner we can lose the masks. For only then can we truly be known.
Listen to the interview below.