Movie written by former Grizz set to film in Memphis

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A film written by Memphis native and former Memphis Grizzlies player Jarnell Stokes is reportedly set to begin production in Memphis this year.

“Break the Cycle,” which the 30-year-old also co-produced, is set to start filming in March. Cuba Gooding Jr., Vivica A. Fox, Vernon Davis, and Quinton Jackson, will star in the film. This is Stoke’s first screenplay.

“Vivica Fox and Cuba Gooding, these were fatherly and motherly figures. That was the energy they put on screen, and that taught me a lot,” Stokes said.

Stokes, who attended Central High School before graduating from South Wind High School, describes “Break the Cycle” as a “heart-pounding journey through the world of streetball that explores themes of family, ambition, and the moral complexities of urban life.”

“There are highlights of what the typical black kid goes through in the city of Memphis or in America,” Stokes said. “This is a coming-of-age story, this is a strong, heart-pounding drama that is pretty gritty. And it’s somewhat relatable to most African-American people.”

Directed by Josh Weber, the movie will reportedly focus on two brothers who “take radically different paths as they come of age in the gritty streets of Memphis.”

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“It tells the story of navigating a treacherous path, an unfortunate reality for far too many young boys in our urban communities,” Stokes said in a release sent Friday afternoon. “I’m so excited to have written my first film and honored to be working with such a tremendously talented group of actors to bring this project to life.”

Stokes wants this project to do more than just entertain audiences. He hopes it teaches children in Memphis, and across the country, to chase their dreams.

“I would love to make something outside of basketball and rap more popular for kids that look like me. I want to show people that it’s possible,” Stokes said. “I would love for kids to learn how to become a man.”

Stokes played for the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, before being drafted by the Memphis Grizzlies in 2014. He was the 35th overall draft pick.

Stokes’ NBA career includes stints with the Miami Heat and the Denver Nuggets. Stokes also appeared in games for the Grizzlies G League affiliate the Memphis Hustle.

In 2021, Stokes also took part in efforts to protest the proposed “Byhalia Pipeline” that would have cut through parts of southwest Memphis.

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