The young character Michael at the center of TV One’s new film “White Water,” based on a true story about a 7-year-old black boy in the 1960s who becomes obsessed with the idea of drinking out of the whites-only water fountain, is actually played by two charming twins: Amir and Amari O’Neil. Even though the O’Neils weren’t alive in the ’60s, they learned some important life lessons from their time shooting the movie.
When asked what he thought about the concept of segregated water fountains, Amir says, “I think it shouldn’t be like that because it’s really stupid and dumb. You shouldn’t judge people by their race. You shouldn’t judge people at all.”
Sage wisdom, Amir. Amari shared similarly deep thoughts about why people instilled the segregation rules, saying, “I think they made a rule like that because they they thought they were better than the blacks just because they’re white. So in my eyes I think that they should have stopped it at that time in 1963.”
Of course, as Tina Fey and Amy Poehler quipped at the Golden Globes
, the American Civil Rights movement (as depicted in “Selma” and now in “White Water”) didn’t quite “totally work and now everything’s fine.” Director Rusty Cundieff views “White Water” as a “‘Forrest Gump’ of civil rights” because of the way it tells its story through Michael’s eyes.
“Because it’s seen through his eyes, there’s a naivete that he has and a truthfulness that he has, because the child sees the ridiculousness of what’s going on but doesn’t quite understand it,” Cundieff says. “Everyone involved in the movie — his mom, his father, the pastor — everyone has a point of view which is actually incorrect, as incorrect as you could say segregation is, as the white folks that were imposing this particular system on the folks down there. So everybody has seen the world incorrectly. His incorrect version, though, is the one that allows everybody else to finally come around and see a different reality, which I think is really charming.”
“White Water” airs Feb. 7 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on TV One.