Michael Gregory is an active participant in the vision he has for his own life, a lesson it takes many so long to learn. With the birth of his production company, Man Plans God Laughs Inc., he, and partner Ashley Elizabeth Green, is committed to sharing stories that are relevant, impactful, and true to his narrative. Mama’s Boy, a proclaimed labor of love, is the pure example of just that. It is the story of Morgan, a young man who, while navigating the path of his life gets devastating news and, ultimately becomes forced to deal with the process of grief. This short film is not uncommon. Its deeply impactful and it is a piece that unites humanity, because despite any of our differences we all have mothers, we all have been rooted in our experiences with them, and we all have them to think for shaping the persons we desperately long to become.
Michael said early on in our conversation that he’s always doing things last minute, but I cant imagine that to be entirely true based on that amount of labor and success he has garnered with this project. A piece that took a few years to write, his passion had always been acting, having pursued it in college and fate seemed to unveil this story.
“I was beginning to get frustrated until I started to write as a creative outlook when I wasn’t able to work and as I started to write, life happens and it throws you curve balls, and my mother ended up passing back in 2012, and essentially the story took its own mold as I was grieving and writing, while I was dealing with my mothers passing, and it ended up being what we now have as Mama’s Boy.”
Taking ownership of his own pursuit of obtaining a career in this industry, Michael Gregory took on a huge feat of writing, directing, and starring in the short film, with a push from his co-director.
“I can honestly say that it’s probably the things that scare you the most that force you to grow. Initially I hadn’t even though about acting in it, let alone directing it. I just wanted to write a piece that was in homage to my mom. And when I met Ashley she was just like you’re going to do it. You’re the only person who knows the story well enough to do it justice.”
That being said, its not difficult to imagine the kind of challenges that come with having to wear more than one hat, but that’s where he cites the support that helps to push towards success.
I owe, pretty much all the support came from Ashley because she was my assistant director because she was co directing with me so when I was in the actor’s chair doing the scene she was taking up the reigns. It was so important for me to have somebody who really knew the story like the back of their hand so that I could feel comfortable giving that hat to her to know what she was doing and giving the piece justice.”
Gregory sees more directing in his future for sure. When he writes he sees pictures, which lends itself naturally to directing. As challenging as it was to create this work he feels it is one that is fulfilling.
“We’re waiting to hear back from some festivals about the selection process for the short but we just finished writing the feature a few weeks ago and the goal is to get the feature done and I will more than likely be shooting that. I definitely do foresee more filmmaking in the future for sure.”
With a name like Man Plans God Laughs we know that Gregory had to have a sense of purpose or will for his life. After knowing each other for about a year and a half, working together in Trader Joes’ the company was developed.
“I always have this plan in mind. I am very specific on how I want my life to look, how I’m creating my tomorrow but ultimately God is going to show you where you need to go. We’re just two creatives who are passionate about storytelling and both of us are no longer in a place where we want to ask permission to do what we love to do.”
That is profound, just to have that mindset and that way of thinking when it comes to approaching ones own career. Every awards show in Television and Film, or Theatre, yields itself to the climate of the entertainment industry and the need for more stories to be told. There is no better way than to take matters personally, and Gregory is doing exactly that, creating the stories he believes in while he waits for other mediums to sort of align themselves with his vision.
“I want to have a little more control over my career and what I’m doing. So until permission is granted, until I can be in a movie or Broadway, I’m going to do it, because that’s where the satisfaction comes from for both of us. That’s why the company was started. We have a new online web content TV show called Entrée, featuring four young black hosts talking about what’s happening in the world over the food, featuring a new restaurant in the city each week, its sort of like The Chew meets The View, coming this fall.”
Art is such a beautiful process. When it’s paired with life experiences, its transparent and it has the ability to both educate and entertain. Gregory’s efforts, initially an idea from watching Oprah’s special on fatherless sons and daughters, is rooted in self discovery and exploring ways to get others to find their own power. Even in his process of laboring over a script and trying to push the project along.
“Surrender, that’s when God places someone who can move things along. For me it’s really about the surrender of life and finding contentment in what you’re doing and also the resiliency to keep going and I think I get my resiliency and tenacity from my mother who instilled that in me from day one. There were times when I didn’t want to finish but it would always eat away at me and I know I have to have patience and perseverance to keep moving forward. The very things you think are making you inadequate that is where you find your strength.”
There is a scene in the film where we see a younger version of the lead character Morgan. I wanted to know what advice Michael would give to his younger self and I found it to be something that we should all take a moment to recognize.
“Be patient. Be bold and courageous, and be quiet. Be quiet and let things unfold as they go. Morgan is trying to find piece in all aspects of his life In order to find piece you have to be quiet and still your mind and there is surrender in that. You let things unfold while you’re working towards something.”
The feature is in homage to the selflessness and strength of single mothers everywhere. An only child, Gregory recognizes the fact that his path could have gone completely awry without the support of those around him and all that was instilled in him. At 26, I find him to be way ahead of the curve, especially on the maturity scale. Michael Gregory is completely self aware, there is a warm tint embodied by his voice, and it’s easy to connect with him. He’s a huge fan of Lion Babe and can’t get enough of Stevie Wonder. A perfect morning would start with a cup of English tea with a shot of milk in it, and he’s reading a few books, including The Wait by Devon Franklin and Meagan Good, because that’s just where he’s at with life currently.
Inspired most by the uncertainty of life and how dreams come true, his biggest dream is that people will be affected and healed by Mama’s Boy. Michael Gregory has enormous vision and the relentless will to succeed. “We create our tomorrows every single day.” Our conversation was filled with quotable moments. His passion is contagious, and with a spirit as filled and genuine as his there simply is no way the universe would refuse to unveil all he plans to accomplish.