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Same Difference (2019)

Watching Essence Atkins in a quiet, character-driven drama is a cinematic revelation, an experience that I never knew I needed. Her performance in Same Difference shook me in an unexpectedly powerful and pleasant way.

Atkins is known for her comedic work in film and television, (Half & Half is one of my favorite sitcoms), but up until this point, in this emotionally tender film-- I don't think I've ever truly seen her, at least not in this light. Same Difference explores the idea of connection, with one's self, and the unique bond between sisters. The last time I remember being this blown away by a comedic actor turned dramatic lead, was perhaps, Jim Carrey in Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind. That film opened my eyes to his range, and depth. Same Difference does that for Essence Atkins-- there's a deep reservoir in which she drew from to give this very subtle performance.

After recently watching Atkins in Ambitions, I was captivated by her performance in the opening scene of that series. I saw something that took my breath away, and made me pause in awe-- her face, her body, became an instrument of beautiful nuances, the weathered look in her eyes, the way she conveyed rejection and shame, it made me stop and do a double take. After that, I made it my mission to see if Atkins had any dramas on her resume, which lead me to viewing Same Difference. And what a lovely rabbit role to fall into... Seeing that indeed, Atkins had this wonderfully layered dramatic lead role in her pocket. This indie film gem waiting to be discovered. Who is this version Essence Atkins, and how can I have more of her?

It should be noted that Atkins won an award for her role in Same Difference at the American Black Film Festival (ABFF) for Best Performance by An Actor. And rightly so.

I'd love to see Atkins lean into her dramatic side more-- For her to take on projects that give her the space to shine in this realm. Atkins does comedy well, but she is equally talented in this lane.

Same Difference was written and directed by Derege Harding. Kudos to him for crafting a heartfelt piece of "Subtle Core." I'll definitely be on the lookout for his upcoming works.

You can watch Same Difference on BET+


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