Hollywood couple continues push to boost filmmaking in Virginia

Virginia

(WRIC) — Daphne Maxwell Reid and Tim Reid are what you might refer to as a Hollywood story. 

The two are no strangers to the big or small screen. Daphne Maxwell Reid, commonly known as “Aunt Viv” from the “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” Tim Reid, known for playing ‘Ray Campbell’ on “Sister, Sister.” 

Daphne says their impact, however, goes far beyond that. 

“Those were in the middle of our careers,” Daphne said. “We had earlier careers where we were dealing with the representation of black folk.” 

Tim, playing roles in Simon & Simon, WKRP in Cincinnati. Daphne, playing roles in Murder, She Wrote and The Cosby Show. 

“I wanted to have a little say-so in the images that I was asked to play or the opportunity to play,” Tim said. “I look back on that and I go, okay, that was my purpose.”

Both found their love for their on-screen capabilities before ever finding their love for each other, getting married in 1982. 

“The first time we had a date, he just called me to have a drink,” Daphne said. “I did. Our little five-hour drink became a laugh fest. It just bloomed from there.” 

During their successes in Hollywood, they tried to bring those efforts to Virginia in the ’90s, opening up New Millennium Studios in Petersburg, which stayed open for more than 10 years before finally closing its doors in 2015. 

“It worked,” Daphne said. “We brought $15 million to the city of Petersburg the first year that we were opened.” 

The studio was a popular go-to spot for dozens of movies and productions in the 2000s, including “For Real” and the 1999 thriller “Asunder.”

The Reids, however, say they faced challenges on their stake in the film industry here in the Commonwealth. 

“But, we couldn’t get the legislature to understand the incredible potential,” Tim said about the challenges, saying Virginia did not have the incentives to compete with other parts of the country. “The billion-dollar industry that laid waiting for people like myself and others to get behind and nurture. They never got that.”

A vision they say did not continue in Petersburg, but still will go on today. Currently, the couple still has a smaller studio in Richmond’s Manchester neighborhood. 

“The images you see define what you think of yourself, what you think of other people, that’s the rub,” Tim said. “When you get into who controls the distribution of that information, you will find very few or zero people of African descent.”

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