Toronto 2012: CCH Pounder on a Mother's Immigration Tragedy in 'Home Again'

"The Shields" star features in the Jamaica deportee drama by Canadian director Sudz Sutherland, which has its world premiere at TIFF this week.

TORONTO – Home Again, the Jamaica deportee drama by Canadian director Sudz Sutherland, follows three characters struggling to live in a foreign land after living most of their lives in adopted countries.

And The Shield’s CCH Pounder said she was inspired on the first day of shooting for Home Again in Trinidad by a mother’s immigrant experience as she faced the camera for a close-up shot.

“I’m familiar with this situation. I’m an immigrant. I went through all the paperwork. I had to stay in another country until they were ready to receive us,” Pounder, who was born in Guyana, said of moving to England for her education, before eventually settling in the U.S. with her family.

Sutherland said the script called for Pounder to show a face filled with the raw emotion of a mother whose son is deported from Britain to Jamaica for possessing a few joints.

“I was talking to the cameraman, and said we’ll do it a couple times and we’ll get the feel for it. And he replied, no, she’s going to nail it the first time,” he added, as he recounted their conversation.

Pounder recalled summoning in her mind’s eye a mother going to work in the U.S., leaving her children behind with her husband.

“It’s all that same kind of bravado of you’re off, but you’re dying in side,” she insisted.

And just as the cameraman predicted, Pounder got it on the first take.

“She comes and looks at the camera and we’re all blown away at the monitor. See, the cameraman said, she’s a pro,” Sutherland said.

That performance, and those of Tatyana Ali (French Prince of Bel Air), who plays a young mother deported for unwittingly carrying contraband in her suitcase, and Stephan James, who plays the drug-possessing young boy deported to Jamaica, are crucial for a drama Sutherland and producer partner Jennifer Holness designed to expose heartless immigration policies.

“This is something not talked about, but it’s going on all over the world,” the director said.

“To deport someone who is addicted to drugs and involved with petty theft, and they’re on the streets without any reintegration or rehabilitation, you’re setting them up for failure,” or worse, death, he added.

The Toronto International Film Festival continues to Sept. 16.