Blythewood man’s first film premiers Friday in Columbia

Empress Quamina, left, plays Sanaa, and David Rowell plays Lamad in Mo’Reese Madu’s film. | Contributed

BLYTHEWOOD – “Differences,” a romantic drama produced by a Blythewood-based filmmaker, will have its world premiere in Columbia this Friday, Aug. 25, and become available for viewing on the free streaming service Tubi on Sept. 1.

The film tells the story of Lamad, a store clerk who recently got out of prison with ambitions to be successful in life and stumbles into an unlikely romance with Sanaa, an R&B superstar.

As his love life becomes entangled with an effort to save his uncle’s shop – portrayed in the film by a real-life shop on North Main Street in Columbia – Lamad must figure out what to do next.

“With today’s films, there’s not a lot of black romance dramas out there anymore, so that’s the reason I wanted to write this film,” says producer Mo’Reese Madu, who grew up in Columbia near Blythewood and has pursued screenwriting and film production in this area for the last three years.

“I grew up watching Love Jones, Love & Basketball, Boomerang, films like that,” he says, “and I just wanted to add my two cents to [this genre for] this generation.”

The film “Differences” was filmed where it is set: in Columbia. The plot, Madu says, definitely contains “a twist” that the viewer might not see coming – but to find out more, of course you have to watch.

Madu says he didn’t grow up writing – nor dreaming of becoming a filmmaker. Instead, he got his first exposure to video production in the film industry some years ago as the website manager for a Charlotte-based video production company.

This experience, he says, gave him the knowledge he needed to put together a good team to produce his first film.

While he was running his web design business, Madu says he was also writing – first nonfiction books in the self-development space and then his first novel, the Perceptionist, in 2020.

It tells the story of a struggling South Carolina community where a mysterious woman arrives and slowly changes the perception of community members to see a host of empowering opportunities that they’ve previously overlooked.

Then, Madu says, he entered a scriptwriting mentorship program – and, though he was offered a deal for one of his early scripts, he found that, for the most part, it was tough to break into the market.

“It was hard to get anything picked up,” he says, “so I just decided to take matters into my own hands and produce my own film.”

“Differences” is being produced under the umbrella of Afrovisions Media, his current company. After the release and promotion of this film is complete, he hopes to produce another one soon after.

The script for that next film, whose title is yet to be decided, is a romantic comedy about a man who falls for a woman who has two daughters – after vowing that he’d never date a woman with kids.

After that, Madu says, he hopes to turn The Perceptionist into a TV series – and maybe write a sequel.

The trailer for “Differences” can be viewed on Madu’s website at

Friday’s screening is scheduled for 8:25 p.m. at Spotlight Cinemas Capital 8 (at the Columbia Mall), and tickets are $10 at the door. The event will also feature appearances beforehand by producer Mo’Reese Madu and members of the cast, with a “red carpet” walk anticipated sometime around 8:00 p.m.

“People who have goals in life and they haven’t achieved them yet, I hope they walk away inspired to use the community they have right around them to get where they’re trying to go,” Madu says of the impact he hopes the film will have on those who view it.

“That’s what the main character, Lamad, does in the film. Although it’s a love story, he has ambitions to be somebody – and he’s just not seeing all the opportunities right around him. And by meeting Sanaa (the famous singer), she inspires him to utilize what he has.”

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