Craig Robinson talks the Election and Mentoring the Future

Interview

Political upheaval may be an opportunity for parents.

Craig Robinson does breakout work as an expatriate dad trying to raise a son in Germany in Morris From America, screening as an official selection at the 2016 Los Cabos Film Festival. The film takes familiarity and emboldens it with lived-in specificity rather than eccentric quirk.

The father-son heart of the film throbs with the many personalities juggled by parents: friend, protector, number one fan. Both son and father mature over the film’s antics, with a goofy camaraderie not dissimilar to that found in Hunt for the Wilderpeople. Robinson, from Chicago (where I live and first saw his movie), spoke with us in Cabo about being in Mexico so soon after election day and what comes next.

Have you heard from your family in Chicago since the election?

I was in Chicago that night, so yeah I’ve heard some panic. President Obama’s handshake though, that was a real gesture for a lot of people towards togetherness. Even if we have to work together, and assuming the worst with the people [President-elect] Trump brings with him, there are ways to still make our differences. To be dignified. But oh hell yes I’ve heard from people back home about the election (laughs).

I know a lot of people marching the streets downtown outside of Trump Tower, protesting.

That’s crazy. I get it. It’s gonna be hard out there for a lot of folks.

Especially, to tie this in with your movie, for parents.

That’s true, that’s true. This movie, that relationship, that’s what people are gonna have to have now. You’ve got to talk to your kids as both a parent and a friend. Someone who will give it to you straight but still be there to make it easier. I had people come up to me after screenings and say “I wish Curtis [Robinson’s character] was my dad.” That’s meant a lot to me and shows that there’re bridges we can build at even that level. Even with parents and kids.

Is that idea something you want to continue going for in your career? Reaching out to youth?

I was a schoolteacher for years in Chicago, teaching music [at Horace Mann Elementary School]. I understand the importance of mentorship for young people, even outside their parents. That’s more important now than ever. You gotta have that support system everywhere you can.

Do you see yourself going back to teaching?

Teaching? Teaching kids? No.

(laughs)

But I’ve helped people get ready for auditions and then they’ve gotten the parts. That’s the most gratifying thing in the world, helping each other. Maybe I’ll do something with all this acting I’ve been doing. Yeah, maybe I’ll do a masterclass (laughs).

Morris From America is widely available for rent and purchase on VOD.