Praise This is going to lift your spirits. It follows aspiring musical superstar Sam, played by Chlöe Bailey, who is shipped to Atlanta after falling in with a not-so-savory crowd in Los Angeles. While there, she discovers that her cousin Jess’ less-than-stellar praise team is set to compete in the national championship competition. Sam could lead this team on the path to glory, but she must learn to believe first.
“Sam is a spicy little thing and she loves music so much. I feel like she holds on to music as a way to connect with her late mother,” Bailey tells EBONY. “She’s definitely a lot spicier than me in who she is as a human being. But what I love about her, which I find in myself, is that our love of music outgrows anything and that she’s finding herself through the music.”
While Sam may be questioning her connection to a higher power, Bailey has a strong spiritual foundation. “Ever since I was a little girl, I've always loved God. I've had a personal relationship with Him and my love of music has filtered throughout that.” Growing up in the south in Georgia and visiting her grandparents in South Carolina, Bailey recalls, “We'd be up there singing 'His Eye Is on the Sparrow' and before the holidays 'God Bless the Child' with certain morals and lessons being instilled in the music that we always listened to. I am never shy of speaking on and sharing my love of God because it's helped me relinquish control and believe in something greater other than myself.”
Bailey stresses that while Praise This has a religious theme, the film doesn't force ideals on anyone. “It's about being a human being and finding things that you love. Sam's not a believer. We'll follow her journey to see if she gets there or if she doesn't, but more how she finds herself through gospel music.”
The film’s director Tina Gordon, who’s written and directed movie hits Little, What Men Want and Drumline, wanted audiences to get a sneak peek inside the world of praise teams with this latest screen endeavor. “I knew I wanted to do a film in the faith-based space—it’s high octane in that competitive world,” she declares. With this new feel-good film, Gordon is continuing her mission to create uplifting representations of our community.
“I like to create a bubble for Black audiences to go into and explore: your joy, your culture, your friends, your family. And for that brief moment, you can just leave the outside perceptions of your color outside the door. It's just my approach to filmmaking,” she explains. “It involves infusing them with the best of our culture, our clothes, our art, our music, our comedy, all of those things.”
Praise This, streaming on Peacock on April 7.