“First Look” a lighthearted Terry fanfic...how it might have all began...a few obvious liberties taken but I hope you’ll enjoy.
Tony had never attended the NAACP Image Awards before. He supposed it’d be like any other awards show, but obviously focused on honoring people who are typically underrepresented at other awards shows. Oh hell, who was he kidding? It was completely different! He’d caught it on television a couple times and there was just a different energy about it. The hosts were always lively, the entertainment was a hell of a lot better than the stuffy awards shows he’d attended in the past, and something unscripted seemed to happen at least once during the show. In a word, he was nervous.
His daughter Anna laughed at him as he tried to figure out what to wear.
“Omg, Dad, you need to RELAX! Just be cool. It’ll be fun!”
Tony scoffed. “Right. Be cool. You do realize I’m a 49 year old white guy going to a hip awards show full of hip hop stars and supermodels, right?”
“Okay, first of all, don’t say ‘hip’. Second of all, it’s not the BET Awards, Dad. Don’t worry, there are always boring categories like ‘Outstanding news special” and lots of politicians and stuff attend so you won’t be the ONLY old or white guy there,” she said matter-of-factly as she snickered along with the hairstylist and makeup artist Tony had hired for the occasion.
“Thanks” Tony said, feigning hurt.
Truthfully, he was honored to be nominated for an award. He’d always felt a responsibility as someone with some degree of influence in Hollywood to tell stories about all kinds of people. He was ashamed of how little Hollywood seemed to care about representing the world as it really is and was intrigued by the idea of experiencing what it’s like when the black community comes together to honor each other’s accomplishments.
Besides, he was going to start filming the pilot for a new show in a couple months and SHE was going to be there…
Tony really enjoyed the indie film niche and was happy to have been able to make it to the New York Independent Film Festival. There was so much untapped talent, minds eager and full of incredible ideas and immense potential converging on one place to showcase their work. He felt inspired seeing each film and speaking with the creative masterminds behind them. Hollywood had such a good-old-boy mentality that he’d felt stagnant and frustrated with the lack of fresh ideas and faces. These last two days had been such a revelation.
He had just finished a lively conversation with a screenwriter at a reception for a film about the American prison system when a couple of familiar-looking black gentlemen approached the mini bar. Tony couldn’t think of their names but they were definitely celebrities. Young, probably no older than thirty-something and had obviously enjoyed a few drinks before now because they were talking a bit loud.
“Bruh, did you see Kerry though?” one was saying. He leaned back and placed his hand over his heart dramatically before continuing, “Yo, she is looking SO fine. I’ve never seen her so thick, man.”
“You ain’t lying. She’s always been cute, real talk. Not many women can touch her looks-wise. But damn, she has me ready to wife her up after seeing her last night.”
Tony tried to look like he was into the program he was reading while nursing his drink but he found himself extremely amused by the gentlemen’s conversation.
“True, true,” the first one was saying. “You know my man Chris made her gain weight for this movie? We gotta thank him and God for that.”
Both men shared a spirited laugh at that.
“I ain’t even seen the movie yet, man.” The other one admitted.
“What?? Come on, you’re slipping. There’s a lot of good movies to see but we gotta support Chris. He worked hard on this joint. And I mean, Kerry’s in it and she’s so sexy, man.”
“I know, I know. I’m planning to see that joint tonight though. What’s the name of it again?”
“I Think I Love My Wife. That chick from Cleopatra is in it too and she fine too, bruh.”
“Word? She’s the only reason I watched that bum ass show.”
Tony couldn’t suppress his laughter this time. The two men cut their eyes at him for a second but Tony pretended to be engrossed in what he was reading so they decided he was okay.
Just then, Chris Rock walked in and several people started cheering and clapping for him. “Stoppit! Y’all just came for the food!” he joked as he made his way to the bar.
“I hope y’all aren’t in here causing trouble. You know we have to be on our best behavior around these elite types”, Chris cracked as he greeted the gentlemen.
“Hey, man, I saw your movie last night and I gotta give you your props. It was funny as hell. The audience was cracking up the whole time,” the first gentleman complimented Chris.
“Thanks, man. That means a lot. At one point I didn’t think the movie was gonna get made but we stuck it out and I’m really happy with the end result. I’m proud of this one, you know?” Chris said with conviction.
The first man’s friend cleared his throat and said in a conspiratorial tone, “Ey Chris, what’s up with Kerry though? I mean I was wondering if sh—“
“HELL no, man, c’mon. Kerry is family to me. I’m not even entertaining no knuckleheads trying to get at her. You can take your pick of the hot little things running around here this weekend but leave Kerry alone, you hear me?” Chris said seriously.
“Aight, my bad. I had to try!” the gentleman said, raising his hands in surrender with a good natured laugh.
“Y’all be blessed. I’m gonna hit up this afterparty later.” Chris gave each man one of those unique handshakes black men often exchange that no one else can do any justice, nodded at Tony, and left.
“Daaaaaaaammmmmmn, he shut you DOWN, man! That was brutal!” the first man was saying, playfully smacking his comrade on the shoulder as they made their exit.
Tony had located Chris’ film in the program and found the description interesting. Perhaps a comedy was a great way to cap off his weekend. He vaguely recognized the name of one of the lead actresses. Kerry Washington.
Where had he heard that name before? He was certain he’d heard of her, seen her in something, but couldn’t quite place her. A picture would’ve been helpful. He shrugged and noted the screening time before he returned to his hotel to relax before the evening started.
The house was PACKED when Tony arrived to the I Think I Love My Wife screening. He’d arrived 20 minutes early and still had to look for a decent seat. He’d seen the poster for the movie in the lobby. Chris Rock sandwiched between two beautiful women. He wasn’t sure which one was Kerry but decided it didn’t matter if he got to enjoy a movie with them both in it.
Tony found a seat toward the back, next to a man about his age who seemed to be in a chatty mood. He relayed all of his favorite films from the weekend, talked about the best spots to eat and remarked on the number of beautiful women he’d seen since he’d arrived.
“Speaking of beautiful women, did you know that one of the young ladies in this film starred in Ray?” he continued without taking a breath.
Tony’s eyebrows raised at that, “No, I DIDN’T know that. I’ve seen that film. Everyone was phenomenal in it. Jamie Foxx blew me away.”
“Oh, definitely,” the man said, “and the young woman who played his wife was great too. She’s in this one. Can’t think of her name but I recognized her face on the poster out there.”
Shit. THAT’S where he’d seen her before! Kerry played the wife in Ray! Tony remembered thinking the young actress did an amazing job in the movie. She hailed from New York and completely nailed the part of a Southern belle. Tony shifted in his seat. He’d already been interested in the film, but now he was really looking forward to seeing Kerry in a new role.
Tony shook his head as he left the theater, still reveling in how funny the film was and how dead SEXY Kerry was in it. She was almost uncomfortably alluring but managed to bring a vulnerability to a character that could have easily been one-dimensional. Tony had laughed a few times during the viewing at some of the remarks from males in the audience. They may have been crude but they weren’t wrong. The way those full lips wrapped around a cigarette, the way those big brown eyes looked Chris’ character up and down, the way she filled out every form-fitting dress she wore in the movie…Yes, Tony concluded, Kerry was every bit as “fine” as the eager gentlemen from the mini bar claimed earlier that day. He chuckled to himself as he headed back to his hotel. Pity he’d missed premiere night. He would’ve loved to have met her.
Tony smiled at the memory. He’d seen countless films of Kerry’s since then. It was almost an obsession of his, to see her movies as soon as he found time. Since seeing her in I Think I Love My Wife, he’d had a chance to meet her briefly at events for the Creative Coalition. She was naturally beautiful and vivacious in person, sometimes a complete departure from the characters she played. It was striking, really, the way she transformed herself in her roles.
He’d become a life-long fan.
He’d been so surprised to get a call from none other than Shonda Rhimes, hand-picking him to star in a new show. The woman was revered in television for her ground-breaking dramas and being a front-runner for diversity in a way that’d never been seen before. He’d directed an episode of her hit show, Grey’s Anatomy and could still remember the atmosphere on set. There was an electricity in the air, a current of excitement that seemed to run through everyone, from the actors to the crew to the writers. It’s as though everyone working could sense that this was something special.
And now the genius behind that show wanted him to play a President, which was intriguing enough on its own, but when she mentioned that he’d be playing a love interest to the main character, played by none other than Kerry Washington herself, he was sold! He’d tried to hide the totality of his eagerness and excitement at the time, but he truly was looking forward to the project. He’d been dying to work with Kerry for years now and he was finally getting that chance.
The award he was nominated for tonight didn’t require him to actually be in attendance. It was awarded off-screen. But he’d seen that Kerry would be there, presenting no less, and thought it would be worth it just to see her all dressed up. He felt a moment of embarrassment at the thought, but he couldn’t deny that part of his excitement to work with her was due to her uncommon beauty. His ears flamed at the thought of acting out Shonda’s notorious love-scenes with such a gorgeous scene partner.
Tony shook his head. He didn’t want to get ahead of himself. There was a chance the show might not even be picked up after the pilot, and they hadn’t even filmed it yet.
Anna was beside herself at the opportunity to be get dolled up and walk an official red carpet with her father. Tony had to admit he was excited too. Anna hooked her arm in his as they made for the door.
The red carpet was absolute madness, but in the most exhilarating way possible. Celebrities and familiar figureheads were dressed to the nines and greeted each other spiritedly, as though the event were a massive family reunion and everyone was excited to simply be in the same place at the same time again. Tony didn’t feel out of place at all. In fact, he was made to feel quite welcome, with several people recognizing even as far back as ghost and citing works he’d directed. It was surprising and refreshing to know that his work resonated with so many people.
Anna was having the time of her life! Her eyes about fell from their sockets every minute from the excitement of seeing so many people she’d only been able to admire on television or on the radio. She liked to pretend she was all grown up and mature, but in this moment she was a giddy little girl again and Tony beamed knowing that he was the one who made it happen.
The hosts were incredible! Anika Noni Rose and Hill Harper lit up the stage and really engaged with the audience. Anna grooved to the music, laughed at jokes and clapped enthusiastically for all of the winners. And then the presenters for Best Actress in a Comedy Series were introduced and Tony’s breath hitched.
Anthony Mackie was a handsome guy and looked great in his tux. He proudly escorted his beautiful co-presenter and movie co-star by the hand onto the stage. The crowd cheered and clapped for the two talented stars, who Tony admitted, had amazing chemistry on screen together. Kerry was a vision as she walked confidently across the stage. She didn’t walk, actually, she glided. She was so angelic in her white gown, perfectly fitted to her shapely petite body. Tony smiled. She never disappointed.
He looked from one to the other as they bantered back and forth with hilarious script from the teleprompter. Why would their obvious chemistry bother him? He’d seen it before, in She Hate Me and most recently, Night Catches Us. Was it a coincidence that they’d worked together twice now? Perhaps it was just smart casting, tapping into the energy these two shared on screen must be every director’s dream! He’d certainly have taken advantage. Or was it something more? They were holding hands as they’d made their entrance and both had big smiles on their faces.
Well, of course they were smiling! They’re presenting an award for best comedy on national television! Slight color warmed his face at the ridiculous turn his thoughts had taken. It’s none of his business. Besides, the way Kerry was saying “Vergarrrrrra” as she announced the winner, Sophia Vergara, was worthy of his undivided attention.
The audience roared as Vergara made her way to the stage. Her ample bosom bounced as she ran-hopped up the steps to accept her award. She was a beautiful woman, of that everyone was aware. But as she gave her speech, cutting away to speak in Spanish every so often, Tony’s gaze moved to Kerry behind her. She obviously understood Spanish very well, as she laughed along with Sophia and, adorably at one point, put her hand over her mouth in mild shock at something Sophia had said.
At the end of the speech, the two women wrapped their arms around each other and walked off the stage. It was quite a sight!
Tony was disappointed not to see or speak to Kerry up close that night, but it only enhanced his anticipation for their first day on set together. He smiled.
See you in a few weeks, gorgeous.