Over the past few years, different television networks have attempted to successfully portray the lives of musical legends like TLC, Aaliyah, Whitney Houston and more. Due to bad casting and false information, those biopics have failed horribly, leaving social media bashing most made for TV biopics. After all the years of biopics letting us down, BET has done it right. Back in 2015, the network announced that they were going to unfold The New Edition Story. Although the reaction of the story was exciting, everyone was wondering if the biopic was going to be sugar coated because of the group’s rocky past.
Producer Jesse Collins and Director Chris Robinson knew that if they were going to tell this story right, they were going to have to expose the good, the bad and the extremely ugly. That is exactly what came of the 3-night scripted miniseries now known as The New Edition Story. The biopic starts in Boston with the group as kids, ends with the solo career of Bobby Brown and the start of Bell Biv Devoe, and shows everything in between.
The story stars Algee Smith as Ralph Tresvant, Bryshere Y. Gray as Michael Bivins, Elijah Kelley, as Ricky Bell, Keith Powers as Ronnie Devoe, Woody McClain as Bobby Brown and Luke James as Johnny Gill. Throughout the story you will see many familiar faces such as LaLa, Tank and Bre-Z to name a few.
EGL had the pleasure to interview Algee Smith on the very morning of The New Edition Story premiere to hear more about him and his role as New Edition’s lead singer, Ralph Tresvant. “The whole process of rehearsing for this role was challenging, just because Ralph is still alive, and I didn’t want to let him down,” Algee said. “But I’m smooth, smooth just like him so it came pretty easy.”
When Algee received the phone call that he had got the role of Ralph Tresvant, he was beyond excited “That whole day was super crazy, I called my momma up first and she knew this was the start of something great.” But at that moment, Algee knew the pressure was on and it was up to him and the rest of the cast to nail this story.
Algee shared with us that when he first met Ralph, he spoke with him for about an hour and a half and one of the first thing he told him was “he didn’t want me to try to be him, Algee said because they were already so similar Ralph just wanted Algee to “feel the emotions.”
The transition from Algee Smith to Ralph Tresvant wasn’t too difficult at all. “I was brought up on great music. My father was a guitarist who toured with Ralph, Johnny and Bobby, so this is the music I know.”
Not only did Algee get to make history by showcasing the lives of legends, but he did so with an outstanding crew. “Those are my brothers,” Smith mentioned regarding Yazz, Elijah, Keith, Woody and Luke. “This was really God ordained the way everything fell into place. I talk to these guys everyday. It’s not one moment our group chat isn’t poppin’.”
Algee has been in multiple TV series, starred in Disney’s Let It Shine and was in 2014’s Earth to Echo. Although he is no stranger to the camera, Algee says The New Edition Story is his first major role. But it doesn’t end here. Algee will play a role in the upcoming film about the 1967 Detroit Riots releasing in August 2017.
The role as Ralph Tresvant came so easily to Algee because he is an artist himself. Smith has an EP dropping later in the year and he has told us to be on the look out for his newest single. But if you head over to AlgeeSmith.com you can hear all of his music right there.
We asked Algee to tell us one of his most memorable moments on set. “The funniest moment had to be when we were filming the ‘If It Isn’t Love’ video,” Algee said laughing. “I had to wear these tight ass pants that were so skinny they felt like I had leggings on. All the guys were laughing at me for the rest of the night.”
If you’re looking forward to seeing Algee in those leggings and the legendary story of New Edition, make sure you tune into the 3-part miniseries of The New Edition Story Jan. 24th, 25th, and 26th at 9pm ET on BET.
Interview By: Marshay Rice