Director Olivia Newman‘s film, First Match, is creating a ton of buzz. Its star, newcomer, Elvire Emanuelle is being heralded as giving a breakout performance that will have people talking. Starring alongside Emanuelle are Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Colman Domingo, and Mugga.
This is Newman’s directorial debut based off a short film she recently made. Newman states she was intrigued by the idea of girls deciding to take up wrestling in high school. Because there just aren’t enough girls to form leagues, these girls often have to settle for co-ed wrestling.
Newman set up a nationwide search to find the right actress to play the lead character, Monique. The most impressive and self-submitted audition tape was Brooklyn native, Emanuelle, who was already a skilled wrestler. Needless to say, Newman was instantly won over. First Match was selected as SXSW 2018 Film Festival Selection.
Here is the synopsis of First Match:
Hardened by years in foster care, a teenage girl from Brooklyn’s Brownsville neighborhood decides that joining the all-boys’ wrestling team is the only way back to her estranged father.
The film stars Elvire Emanuelle, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Colman Domingo, Jharrel Jerome and Jared Kemp. From producers Chanelle Elaine, Veronica Nickel and Bryan Unkeless, First Match is the first feature film for writer/director Olivia Newman.
The trailer begins with troubled youth, Monique, trying to navigate through harsh life comprised of being bounced around foster homes and trying to survive her bleak surroundings. Monique tells a friend as soon as her estranged father gets out of prison she’s going to go live with him.
However, like with everything in Monique’s life nothing is that easy. The closer Monique tries to reacquaint herself with her father, the more cold and distant her appears to be. Monique tries a new approach by signing up and competing on her school’s all-boy wrestling team.
This peaks her father’s curiosity enough to at least see if his daughter is really committed to going through with trying to make the wrestling team. Monique goes through a transformation, cutting her hair, and changing her look so that she can at least initially be taken seriously by her coach.
As she takes the mat she earns the respect of her male teammates by being a born natural at the sport. As Monique progresses on the mat her father beings to reemerge in her life and support her. Monique becomes so good at the sport that she could end up with a scholarship because of it.
However, her father would rather disregard the big picture and instead place Monique in underground fights that puts her status with the team in jeopardy. This leaves Monique with the impossible decision of having to choose between her father or her future.
First Match hits the program queue March 30th, 2018.
Watch: Netflix’s First Match Trailer