VH1 Explores Chicago Barbershop Culture & Violence in Town Hall Event

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(Photo Provided by VH1)

The barbershop, a staple in the black community for many years now, it is also a place where fathers and some mothers take their sons to experience a brotherhood. The barbershop is the place where the talk is everything from last nights sporting event to politics to religion, nothing is off the table once you're inside of the barbershop. Tonight, (Monday, April 11, 2016) VH1 will air a special called "Behind the Movie: Exploring Chicago with the Cast of Barbershop: The Next Cut."

The movie starring Ice Cube is the third moving in the franchise. This time around it centers on the shop and the role it plays in one Chicago neighborhood. In some aspects you could say this is art-imitating life because there is so much going on in Chicago in terms of violence. The special on VH1 is hosted and produced by Sway Calloway. Sway sits down in a town hall style forum with members of the cast of the movie and joining them are a number of people who live in Chicago to talk about the violence in the city, gangs, and how the barbershop often times is a place of solitude for community members who desperately want to live better lives. I had the opportunity to sit and talk with Sway about the special and what viewers can expect.

KM: Sway talk to me about the driving force behind this town hall event?

Sway: The need, you know Chicago has been the driving force behind of a lot of issues in our country. Whether is the dynamic between local government or police or race relations, economics, and crime in our neighborhoods? These are issues that people in Chicago face but also its happening across the country but Chicago has been in the middle of it. Ice Cube the star of the movie said something very interesting that he only agreed to do Barbershop 3 if it talked about real life issues that Chicago faces. Of course it won't be as real as what's going on in Chicago right now but to be able to tap into it and talk about it is a great thing. For us this special was an opportunity to talk about issues in an entertaining way that don't always rate well.

KM: Let's talk about your time in Chicago and putting this special together. How long were you there?

Sway: I was there for two days but our team had been there scouting and researching, this has been in the works for long time, for a couple of months now. We spent a couple of days there and during that time we spent a lot of time going to different areas of the city, specifically the south side.

KM: What was it like being there and filming the special? What did you find there?

Sway: People are very prideful there, people are really conscious, even the young teenagers who are at the root of a lot of the crime statistics were very conscious of what was going on. I would ask kids about what it would take to curtail the violence here and every kid would respond by saying if we had opportunity, something to do with our time, we would have less time to make these mistakes. The kids there say they are hungry to succeed in life and there aren't enough jobs for them. Many of them told me they can't see pass the next few years based on what they have seen growing up.

When you think about it Chicago is also a character in the movie. I think "Barbershop: The Next Cut" will shed some light on the turmoil actually happening in Chicago. The movie and this VH1 special tonight will highlight some of the negatives and shine light on what can be done in order to move away from the violence there to shape a better city for the children who have to grow up there in the future. When I think of Chicago, I see my second home because as a kid I would visit family there often and when I chose a college I decided it would be in Chicago. I spent a number of years there developing myself as a professional and I look back on the city with such fond memories. I want to see that city again. I want to visit that city again. Chicago is such a beautiful and amazing place that it often gets this bad rap. The movie and the VH1 special tonight are only helping the conversation. I have strong faith that Chicago will bounce back and in the meantime you can catch the VH1 special "Behind the Move: Exploring Chicago with the cast of Barbershop: The Next Cut" tonight on VH1.