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First-time actor scores leading role in Spragga Benz film

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Film debut: Jodi Covington and Spragga Benz on the set of Second Chance (Photograph supplied)

The call was completely unexpected. A search was on for a female to play opposite Spragga Benz in a full-length feature film and a friend who was a casting agent suggested Jodi Covington.

The PR and marketing consultant, who left Bermuda for Atlanta in 2017, had never acted before but thought it might be fun to give independent filmmaker Cleon James’s project a try.

“He's a director out of Boston. A friend of mine that I've known for a while called and she was doing the casting.

“She said that Spragga, the reggae superstar [and lead in the 2002 action film Shottas], was the lead actor in the movie and that he was looking for someone that looked just like me, and she wanted me to try out.”

Although she “didn't have too much more information” than that, Ms Covington agreed to audition for Second Chance that same night; only days later she was offered the role of Rebecca, a maid who becomes Benz’s love interest.

“I auditioned virtually and then I did a bunch of script readings as well with the director. And a few weeks later, I flew down to Florida and tried this whole acting thing out,” she said.

Knowing that Benz was in all of her scenes she watched Shottas “a few times on Netflix to understand who he is and how he interacted with people on set”.

Ms Covington also studied her lines on her own and with the film’s director and took advice from her oldest daughter who “has actually taken acting classes”.

Entrepreneur and actor: Bermudian Jodi Covington (Photograph supplied)

The director and Benz “were very nice to walk me through how it works” but it was stressful knowing that everyone else on set was “a seasoned professional”.

“I've done reality TV type stuff. Because I have my own PR/marketing firm I'm always on the radio, I’m always doing interviews but acting like someone other than myself, no.

“So I was nervous because I didn't want to look bad but, more importantly, I didn’t want to mess up the whole scene.

“It's very overwhelming when you have the cameras and the lights and everybody's super prepared.

“You don't want to be the one person to mess up and to have them regret booking you for the opportunity. But they were very motivating and encouraging. After the first scene, I got it down.”

Jodi Covington (second from left) with Second Chance cast members Spragga Benz, Merlisa Determined and Jhonn De La Puente at the film’s Atlanta premiere (Photograph supplied)

Second Chance follows the story of a university-educated Rastafarian who is discriminated against while searching for a white-collar job.

With no hope of finding employment he gets into trouble but is given a second chance to improve his life.

The film had its official premiere in Florida in February.

“I am very pleased,” said Ms Covington who could not attend but was in the audience this month when Second Chance had its first screening in Atlanta. “The second I saw myself on screen I just remember grinning and going ‘Oh God, here we go….’ But I was very happy with my role and my performance and everyone gave great feedback.

“It was kind of a natural fit for me because the character went to university; she's very family-oriented. She really cared deeply for people; she supported other people.

“So to me, the character was very much like me. I didn't have to be someone completely out from who I am. So that was very helpful. But I was very happy with my performance. As the only Bermudian cast member I think I represented pretty well.”

Leading roles: Jodi Covington and Spragga Benz on the set of Second Chance (Photograph supplied)

The one thing that surprised her was the erratic pace of filming.

“I was quite surprised that I would do one scene early in the morning and then the next scene would literally not take place until two, three o'clock [the following] morning. So you’re just kind of waiting all day and all night.

Quiet moment: Jodi Covington and Spragga Benz on the set of Second Chance (Photograph supplied)

“So that was a bit surprising for me, but everyone says that's the industry. So I think that was the most surprising thing and also just how quickly, once they're done, [they move onto] the next scene.”

Ms Covington, who owns a telecommunications firm and a trucking company in addition to her PR business, says she would “definitely be open to doing another project” if time allowed.

“It's very, very different. It's new. It's exciting. I'm not actively pursuing it as I have a lot of things going on, but I think if an opportunity presented itself I most definitely would take it.”

The film is now screening privately in theatres but will soon be available on a streaming platform.

“Which one I'm not quite sure yet,” Ms Covington said. “[The director is] just focusing on getting a lot of the private viewings out of the way in the different areas.”

Island girl from Bermuda: Jodi Covington on the set of Second Chance with Daniela Castello Jr, who plays her son (Photograph supplied)

She is thrilled that the movie features an all Caribbean cast – people from Jamaica, St Lucia, Trinidad and Dominican Republic.

“And of course, I represent Bermuda. I take pride in that. ‘My name is Jodi, a small island girl from Bermuda’ – that's my go-to line. I think that it's important to represent where you're from and your culture.”

Break time: Jodi Covington, Spragga Benz, Ky-Mani Marley (standing) and Daniela Catello Jr on the set of Second Chance (Photograph supplied)
Jodi Covington, Spragga Benz and Daniela Catello Jr on the set of Second Chance (Photograph supplied)

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Published March 24, 2022 at 8:01 am (Updated March 25, 2022 at 7:51 am)

First-time actor scores leading role in Spragga Benz film

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