FRUITVALE STATION’s Melonie Diaz: ‘I Won’t Watch it Anymore’

While Melonie Diaz is proud to be part of the cast of FRUITVALE STATION, as a viewer the actress can’t bring herself to watch Oscar Grant’s life cut short on screen anymore because of the emotions the film stirs up.

When Melonie Diaz, a staple of independent films, first read the FRUITVALE STATION script for the role of Grant’s girlfriend and mother of his child, she was angry with herself for not knowing about this real-life incident on New Years Eve 2009. 

“For some reason, I was angry that I wasn’t aware. It made me upset.  How can this go completely under the radar? Why wasn’t there more of a discussion or presence in the media?“
After researching the true story surrounding Oscar Grant’s death, she learned about the riots that soon ensued after the incident that was captured on video and posted on YouTube for everyone to see.  She was more intrigued about the story the first-time writer/director Ryan Coogler wanted to tell.  She initially spoke with Coogler via Skype and his passion and conviction for the subject matter convinced her he was the right one for the job.
“ I wanted to work with somebody that was passionate about this issue.  I want to be part of something that was saying something for once and doing my part socially.”

FRUITVALE STATION shot on a small budget with only 20 days to shoot with actor Forest Whitaker producing the project along with FRUITVALE STATION actress Octavia Spencer. Given the short amount of the production, Diaz credits Coogler with having the “even keel” temperament to direct the cast and crew, which he protected from the troubles that come with filmmaking, especially a low-budget one.  “He runs a smooth ship,” she tells CineMovie.


The pressure was even higher while shooting the fateful day at Fruitvale Station. Since the station is an active BART station, they shot the scene in four hours overnight.  They returned to the tragic scene and the cast and crew felt the anxiety of having to capture the moment as accurately as possible. Everyone gathered for a prayer before recreating the emotional scene.

“We wanted all to be on our A game. And we wanted to make sure we got every single shot to make the movie we wanted to make. In order to do that, we all have to be together, on top of it, in unison. We all had to pay homage to Oscar because that’s the place where he passed.”
Fast forward to the promotion of the film and watching FRUITVALE STATION over and over for Melanie still proved too much to handle.
“It still creates this infuriating anger inside of me. I can’t watch it anymore.  I won’t watch it anymore. It just boggles my mind that stuff like this still happens. “
As with the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman incident, it only proves that this “stuff” is a ongoing problem in in society, but Oscar Grant’s case caused so much upheaval because for once it was caught on tape versus just hearing about it. 
“We caught it on tape. There’s no way you can deny that that cop is not guilty. Even if he meant to do it by mistake, Oscar didn’t need a Taser either. That wasn’t necessary either.”
While she doesn’t see things changing in the near future, she hopes FRUITVALE STATION sparks a conversation at home.
“ I think anybody who sees this movie is going to connect to Oscar as a human being, despite whether he was a black man, despite the police officers.  He was a 22 year old kid trying to do the best he could to be the best person. I think it starts there with a conversation. “
On a lighter note, Melonie Diaz hopes to one day direct her own stories. The 29-year-old studied directing at film school at NYU but became sidetracked by acting and loved it ever since.  She hopes to follow the path one day, but feels she is not ready to take the director’s chair quite yet.  In the meantime, the on set experience has proven valuable.
“That’s the best film school you could possibly have.  First 2 years are great for history and criticism, in my opinion, than the real practice happens on set instead of studying.   “That’s what I really want to do.”

Diaz also has dream directors she’d like to work with such as Alfonso Cuaron who ironically flew on the same plane ride to Los Angeles from New York for the press event.  She admits to staring at the Mexican filmmaker, but didn’t’ have the nerve to hit him up since she didn’t want to come off as a “weird fan.”

She names Sofia Coppola and Jane Champion as other ideal directors she would love to work with. She wouldn’t mind making the transition into Hollywood and feels there are equally strong women roles and quality actresses such as Eva Mendes, Salma Hayek, Sofia Vergara and others.  “There’s room for women like me,”  she states.

And we hope to see more of Melonie Diaz on the big or small screen. FRUITVALE STATION is now playing in movie theaters.


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