"I've had lots of conversations about monogamy," she shared. "You know, is it possible to stay monogamous and what happens when people step outside of their marriage and how do you forgive? So that's kind of where we started because the story is still a love story about forgiveness because, although the main characters are in an open relationship, [Wren] still doesn't abide by the rules, which basically is infidelity. If you set these rules, you still have to abide by the rules. So I took that approach because I think that's an approach almost everybody can relate to. And so I just approach it from this space of unconditional love and forgiveness because being married that is a very, very, very hard thing when trust has been broken."
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The married Robinson shared that “getting over my judgment about the character and situation of open marriage” was a challenge at first, especially given his deep Southern, religious and family background. “I’m a church Bible Belt kind of guy who comes from a two-parent home,” explained the Augusta grad of Lakeside High School and one-time UGA student. “My parents have been married for 53 years, so this was like so left and such a quiet, hush, hush conversation [for me].”
Ultimately, however, Robinson, who worked with Atkins as one of her love interests on her hit 2000s sitcom “Half & Half early in his career, said he understood that Cam and Wren’s open marriage “is just an honest effort of trying to make something last beyond the normal parameters, so to speak.”
For Sigers-Beedles, who is partnered with actress and director Terri J. Vaughn in Nina Holiday Entertainment, the film’s driving production company, “Open” is very aligned with their mission of telling more layered stories featuring black women. So, for her, Robinson’s sense of innocence was very key to this complex and largely unexpected story wrapped around a nontraditional marriage.
“In [a film about] an open relationship, if you already start off with a man with a couple of women, women automatically are going to judge him as a dog,” she explained. “But Keith has such an innocent look and such an innocent quality about him, you got to like him… You just want to believe he’s good.”
Like Sigers-Beedles, truly exploring the dynamics of love and commitment in a different way greatly appealed to Atkins, who is also one of the film’s producers. “In talking about this kind of taboo subject, I wanted to discuss it in a way that wasn’t sensationalist, but that was actually real and grounded and [explore] what it might look like, and what the pitfalls might be and what the seeming benefits would be.”