Newberry Observer

Tolbert to appear in film

PROSPERITY — Michael Tolbert, Prosperity resident, will appear in an upcoming Picture Media Group film What Matters.

According to the press release by Picture Media Group, the film, written and directed by Andrew Gajadhar, is a raw approach to addressing several social issues that people face daily. It follows a young man in transition before heading off to college. In addition to the constant pressure of his best friend wanting him to become an activist like him, because of current issues in society, his family is also faced with other social issues that inadvertently lead all of them to think about what really matters in life to make the right decision.

In the film Tolbert plays Officer Jeremy Conners, Tolbert said Conners is very young and eager, and that kind of gets him into trouble.

“We filmed last March, and I actually didn’t audition for it, I got offered the role,” Tolbert said. “I was kinda hesitant for it. When you are told the synopsis of a story and the character you are going to be playing, I was first like, ‘oh I don’t know if I wanna be a part of this,’ I was kinda scared.”

One night Tolbert was at the studio and came across a copy of the script and read it from start to finish.

“From start to finish I was laughing, and one minute I was crying because it was just an emotional roller coaster,” Tolbert said.

When it came to filming he said you can be in a really dramatic emotional scene, or a really intense scene and then they call cut.

“Most of the time you are able to cut those emotions off, especially with this one, we were able to take a breather when we ended to take a breather and we weren’t so stressed with it,” he said.

This is not Tolbert’s first film, he also worked on Alienography, most of which was filmed in Newberry.

Along with Tolbert, the film stars Tracey de Leon (Family Possessions), Christian Manganelli (Alienography), and introduces Brendan Grayson, Ty-Keem Sadler and Dominic Gajadhar. There is also an appearance by Deon Richmond (Cosby Show, Scream 3).

“Deon Richmond was phenomenal to work with. We had a really intense scene together and sometimes it’s really hard to get there, especially if you are almost intimidated by your co-star. He was able to say, ‘take a breath and let’s do this.’ He was able to pull out emotions in me that had never happened before,” Tolbert said.

What Matters will premier on March 24 at Spotlight Cinema movie theater at 527 St. Andrews Road, Columbia. Tolbert said he has been told it will be a big red carpet premiere. Tickets are $10, and $60 for a VIP ticket. There will also be a second screening on March 25. To see the trailer you can visit the film’s website at

“What’s so beautiful about What Matters is the fact we’re not telling audiences what to think, we’re telling them what to think about. Whether we agree or disagree, there is a common threat that is 110 percent relatable, that being family,” Tolbert said. “What’s also special is the fact we are not saying one perspective is more valid than another. It’s actually okay to think differently, it’s encouraged, because that’s how we as students of the world grow.”

As for what’s next for Tolbert, he said he cannot talk about much. However, he said he will be producing the next thing they do as a collaborative. He also said he wants it to be in Newberry.

Michael Tolbert (right) will appear as Officer Jeremy Conners in the film What Matters. Tolbert (right) will appear as Officer Jeremy Conners in the film What Matters. Courtesy of Michael Tolbert

By Andrew Wigger

Reach Andrew Wigger at 803-276-0625 ext. 1867 or on Twitter @ TheNBOnews.