The Main Event is a movie coming to Netflix April 10 about young Leo (played by Seth Carr) and his journey to becoming a World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) superstar with the help of a magical wrestling mask that grants him the worthy powers of agility, speed, and strength — enough to beat grown male wrestlers back to back in matches.
With the support of his friends and, especially, his grandmother (played by Tichina Arnold), he’ll get closer and closer to his goal.
Black Girl Nerds had the opportunity to interview both Seth Carr and Tichina Arnold about their film.
*This interview has been edited for continuity/clarification. Slight spoilers are present as well.
My first question for you both is what intrigued you about this project? What made you say yes?
SC: Just how, like, I got this role. I would get to be a main character, like a leading man. It’s what I’ve always been training for—and getting to wrestle. So I thought that was really cool.
TA: I love that I was offered the role, but not too happy about playing a grandma. [Laughs.] It wasn’t until I read the script and I talked to Jay Karas our director, who did an awesome job with this movie. He had a really good vision for it. I just thought it was different, I thought it was refreshing, I thought it was fresh. I love the fact that Netflix hooked up with WWE to make a piece of work that people can watch with all members of their family. It’s very, very cool.
You both were so fantastic in the movie. Seth, congrats on playing this lead role. That is so exciting!
SC: Thank you!
And also, Miss Arnold, you were a fantastic grandma in this film, and we are truly, truly honored.
TA: Thank you! It was a lot of fun, and Seth made it easy. He was a confident professional. I love working with this kid. He’s awesome. I said, “I gotta step up my game, he’s a little too professional. I’m the bad one.” [Laughs.] I was like, “Lord have mercy!” It’s just a great film to be a part of. Everybody just put in a lot of work to make this film happen.
I really liked how this film took bullying more seriously than in past films as well as showcasing supportive family dynamics; especially for the lead character, Leo. Miss Arnold, your character is supportive of Leo’s wrestling path right away. What was it like for you both working together on set along with other kids and adults compared to your past work?
SC: It was very fun. Tichina has a great personality, so it was really fun to work with her. It was just a fun experience. Everybody on set was good to work with. I learned a lot.
TA: I always talk about the cast and the crew, because you can’t have a good cast, a good project, without a good crew. It was obviously very technical as well. Watching Seth at work, not only did he have to act, he had to be in rehearsal, he had to study, he had to work out, he had to learn [wrestling and dancing] tricks. Watching everybody else at work was refreshing for me because you didn’t see me doing that. [Laughs.] I didn’t have to do a lot of heavy lifting, but I love the fact that I was able to play a character that you don’t normally see. It’s a movie that covers a lot of areas. It covers bullying, instilling confidence in our children, biracial children and biracial families. It covers hard work in wrestlers. Like, these guys are real wrestlers who have to work really hard every day at their craft. Just watching them work and watching them have to do a feed over and over again with the wear and tear on their bodies. It’s a lot, but I’m happy that we got a good finished project.
There are plenty of films for adults that center on interracial families, but from what I’ve noticed, your film and a select few others are the few for children that make an interracial family the center. Miss Arnold, what have you noticed over the course of your career in regards to that? Seth, have you noticed any changes, or has this been, along with working with diverse casts in general, becoming normal?
SC: I’m really cool with anything. I’m great with all the opportunities that I get to be given, because I know people don’t get opportunities like I do. So I’m just happy with whatever comes my way.
TA: I always said, children, our babies I call them, whatever color they are, whatever background they come from, whatever religious background they come from, they’re still children and they don’t see in color. We as adults, I see in color all the time. And, you know, I’m a little jaded because I’m older and because I’ve had experiences. I love the fact that I had a conversation with Jay, our director, and I asked him, “Are we gonna mention that his dad [played by Adam Pally] is white? Are we gonna say anything? Are we gonna explain that I’m not obviously his blood relative? My daughter is Black, and she hooked up with him, and they had this beautiful kid.” He was like, “No, we’re not gonna talk about it.” And I love the fact that he took that approach because we always see it. I have plenty of biracial friends, and I think it’s important that they see themselves. I think it’s important that everyone gets the opportunity to see themselves. But not only see themselves but see that they can have confidence. These young people, especially these days, they need to know that they don’t have to be bullied. If you’re bullied, you could talk to Grandma about it. You should be able to talk to an adult, and somebody understands. So I think this movie covers a lot of areas that I’m very grateful for. It’s a good film to be a part of. And the fact that Netflix and WWE had a marriage together and came up with The Main Event—I think it will be one of many.
What were the favorite scenes for each of you to shoot during the making of this film?
SC: The scene where there’s the cage and stuff. When my dad [comes in reminding Leo of wrestlers’ weaknesses], and I do the back flip onto Samson [a wrestler for Leo in the final round played by Babatunde Aiyegbusi without wearing the magical mask] with [my] elbow. The whole vibe in that scene was just ecstatic. The crowd was roaring! It was just so surreal.
[To TA] And yours?
TA: I never have a favorite. I told someone else on another interview that I kind of loved watching the kids who were watching the wrestlers at work.
TA: I love watching everybody. Sometimes I become a voyeur, because I’m always in front of the camera and I never get the opportunity to see what happens with the other scenes. I was able to watch the process, so I really enjoyed watching everybody else at work.
I have to ask this question because of what the movie is about. What would be your own WWE wrestler stage names? We know Leo’s name, Kid Chaos, but what would be each of yours?
TA: Mine would be T Time. With the play on the first initial of my name, Tichina, but you think metaphorically it’s “Tea, T-E-A,” like it’s time to get down with tea. Yeah. [Laughs.]
SC: Mine would just be Seth Steel.
T Time and Seth Steel, I know that’s right. [Laughs.] My final question: What are some questions either of you want me to ask that neither of you have been asked enough yet?
TA: Wow, that’s a good question. Shoot! Seth, you wanna answer that? Ima toss it to the kid![All laugh.]
SC: How, like, we developed as a person over time. Our personalities.
TA: Our character.
For sure! How did that develop for you, Seth?
SC: I’ve always been this very funny outgoing kid. I’ve always liked to jump in and say certain jokes here and there. But I just like having fun, and I feel like acting is having fun. I feel like if you’re not having fun [while] acting, it’s like, come on! You have to have fun in acting, so you can bring out your emotion, you can bring out your personality. And, also, you want to be you. In acting you never want to hide who you are. You always want to be the best of you and put your best foot out and be the best you can be.
TA: Yeah! Ditto on that answer! That’s gonna be my answer, too!
Any other final thoughts before I let y’all go?
TA: We’re just appreciative to everyone for taking the time. We hope that you tune in on Friday to watch The Main Event. Get your grandma, get your grandpa, get your aunts, your uncles! Everybody should get online and watch. Get everybody doing that. Being that we cannot be together [in person due to COVID-19], we could still be together virtually and watch The Main Event on Friday.
Lovely! Thank you both so much for your time. Have a great rest of your day. Continue to take care of yourselves right now.
TA: You as well, right back at you. Be safe, and be well.
Tune into Netflix to see the layers of fun and depth in The Main Event!
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Maya Williams (she/her & they/them) is a writer based in Portland, ME. Maya has contributed to spaces such as The Tempest, Black Youth Project, RaceBaitr, The Gay Gaze, and more.