Imani Hakim best known as little sister Tonya Rock from Everybody Hates Chris is now a beautiful young lady starring in a new original Netflix movie “Burning Sands.” It is a film that tackles the subject of college hazing where Hakim’s character (Rochon), is the girlfriend of Zurich, played by Trevor Jackson (Disney’s “Let It Shine”). We caught up with the former child star to discuss her latest role and why it’s important for her to take on projects that remain true to self.
Tell us about the movie Burning Sands and the character you portray?
I play the character of Rochon the girlfriend of Zurich. In the movie, I’m concerned about him pledging to a fraternity because of the hazing that takes place and where he ultimately suffers injuries. His loyalty to the brotherhood and his conscious to do the right thing puts us at war with each other because he’s conflicted and torn between his relationship with me and the fraternity.
Photo: Burning Sands movie
What attracted you to the role?
The storyline. Hazing is a serious topic and it is a story that needs to be told. I have a friend who experienced hazing in college while pledging to a sorority so that information helped me with this role. Also, the director on set shared his experience as well so I was able to get a little more background information.
You seemed to have navigated from child actress to adult roles well. Recently starring in the “Gabby Douglas Story” and the Syfy movie “Sharknado 4.” How did you go about doing this?
I only take on projects that mean something. There were times where the money was great for a part offered but if the role is not right for me I don’t feel the need to do it. You have to feel good about who you are and how you want to present yourself to others.
We have to ask: You played the bratty little sister all too well during ‘Everybody Hates Chris’ television run. Do you have older siblings?
[Laughs] Yes, I have brothers and I’m also a daddy’s girl. Working on the show came naturally to me because of my upbringing with my older siblings. I enjoyed it!
Why should viewers tune in to watch the movie?
It’s important to know what happens on college campuses with hazing and to protect students from some of the serious consequences that take place.
Photo: Burning Sands movie
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Burning Sands takes you on a raw, voyeuristic journey of fraternity pledging through the eyes of one favored pledgee, who is torn between honoring a code of silence or standing up against the intensifying violence of underground hazing. Led by a breakthrough performance by Trevor Jackson, director Gerard McMurray’s feature directorial debut brings an emotional honesty to the classic tale of “rites of passage” and the complicated bonds of brotherhood.
The movie stars Trevor Jackson, Alfre Woodard, Steve Harris, Tosin Cole, DeRon Horton, Trevante Rhodes, Christian Robinson, Rotimi, Octavius Johnson, Malik Bazille, Mitchell Edwards, Serayah, and Nafessa Williams.