“When I first heard the story, it was very clear that we had an incredibly modern story of triumph over adversity. And what made it modern is that it’s a story It’s a family of universal stories. It’s a story of faith,” said writer Arash Amel.
The film follows the family after Charles Antetokounmpo and his wife Vera (Veronica) emigrate from Nigeria to Greece, showing their efforts to support their family under threat of deportation and gain Greek citizenship through a system of immigration that “blocked them at every turn”. “, according to the synopsis of the film.
“Everyone talks about us, about me, Thanasis, Kostas, Alex and Francis, but they always leave out our parents, you know, my dad and my mom,” Giannis said. “So, you know, we knew that one day we were going to tell them, like, who the real heroes of this story, of this journey are.”
Meanwhile, Giannis and Thanasis start playing basketball on a local youth team and discover their talent and passion for the sport. The rest, of course, is history as Giannis, Thanasis and Kostas are eventually drafted into the NBA.
“Rise” stars real-life brothers Uche and Ral Agada as young Giannis and Thanasis.
“I was just laying in bed one day and going on Instagram. And I see a screenshot of a tweet that Giannis posted saying that Disney is making a movie about his life and the life of his family and they’re looking for someone to play him and his brothers,” Uche said. “So I just clicked on a link and just sent a video, just to talk about myself. And then I sent a video. A few months later I got a call back. And for Me, I’ve never been an actor before, so it was very weird for me. So when he said encore with a director of a movie, in my mind, I’m like, yo, this is crazy . But I did that callback and I did another callback. And eventually they told me I got the part, which is absolutely amazing.”
It wasn’t the end, there was more good news.
“And then, a few weeks later, they asked me if I had any siblings and I said I had an older brother,” Uche said. This led to the casting of his brother Ral.
The cast also includes Dayo Okeniyi, Yetide Badaki, Manish Dayal and Taylor Nichols.
“Everyone who played our family did an amazing job,” Giannis said. “We feel like they are our family now and part of us.”
MORE: Exclusive clip from Disney+’s “Rise”
“Rise” was directed by Akin Omotoso, written by Amel and produced by Bernie Goldmann. Giannis Antetokounmpo is credited as executive producer alongside Douglas S. Jones.
The film also includes original music co-written and performed by Antetokounmpo’s eldest son, Francis, known by the stage name Ofili.
Stream “Rise” exclusively on Disney+ this Friday, June 24.
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