Today, Disney+ released a behind-the-scenes featurette for its new film Safety, inspired by the empowering true story of former Clemson University football safety Ray McElrathbey.
In the film, McElrathbey is a young man facing a series of challenging circumstances, whose dedication and persistence help him to triumph over repeated adversities.
Aided by his teammates and the Clemson community, he succeeds on the field while simultaneously raising and caring for his 11-year-old brother Fahmarr. Safety will debut exclusively on Disney+ on Friday, December 11, 2020.
The film stars Jay Reeves (All American, The Tax Collector) as Ray and newcomer Thaddeus J. Mixson as Fahmarr along with Corinne Foxx, Matthew Glave, Hunter Sansone, Amanda Warren, Miles Burris, Isaac Bell, Elijah Bell and James Badge Dale.
It is directed by Reginald Hudlin (Marshall) and produced by Mark Ciardi, p.g.a. (Secretariat, Miracle) and Gordon Gray (Million Dollar Arm, The Rookie) with a screenplay written by Nick Santora (The Most Dangerous Game, The Fugitive). Douglas S. Jones and Campbell McInnes served as executive producers.
Safety is the empowering story of Ray McElrathbey, a young man facing a series of challenging circumstances, whose faith and persistence help him to triumph over repeated adversities and play football on scholarship at Clemson University, all while struggling to raise and care for his 11-year-old brother Fahmarr.
Inspired by a true story of courage, determination and the pursuit of excellence, Disney’s powerful and moving drama Safety explores one player’s college sports experience when put up against seemingly insurmountable odds, while ultimately redefining what it means to have community, family and friendship.
Ray McElrathbey was already taking on a lot when he started his freshman year on a football scholarship at Clemson University, one of the most prestigious and demanding college football programs in the country. Not really understanding what he was getting himself into, but eager to learn about more than just football, Ray signs up for a full load of classes, 16 units.
Just as he’s settling into college life and making friends, including sports journalism major Kaycee, he gets word that his 11-year-old brother Fahmarr (aka Fay), is hanging out with drug dealers back home in Atlanta after their mother has been arrested for possession. Rather than put Fay into the foster care system, Ray decides to smuggle him into his dorm room, which is strictly against the school’s rules.
It’s not long before he finds the added responsibility of caring for Fay, who’s high-maintenance, beginning to take a toll on his performance both on the football field and in the classroom. With help from his roommate Daniel and his other teammates, Ray and Fay manage to keep the arrangement a secret for a while, but eventually Ray confides in Kaycee, who was just about give up on him.
Ray finally breaks down and tells his coaches, who are furious he waited so long to come to them and concerned that it will jeopardize the team. Realizing the bind he’s in, they help him figure out a way to keep Jay with him.
They find them a modest off-campus apartment and a part time job as the building’s handyman to help pay for it. Ray lays down the law with Fay, who steps up to help lighten his brother’s load. Thinking a little publicity will help their cause, Kaycee writes a story for the school paper about Ray and Fay, and the entire Clemson community rallies around the two brothers to help them stay together.
With everyone’s support, Ray starts to prove his worth at football and his academic work soars. But the bubble is burst when a school official alerts the coaches that by accepting outside assistance, Ray’s violated the terms of his scholarship.
Once again, Ray finds himself in a position where he must choose between keeping Fay and continuing on at Clemson. Unwilling to give up, he chooses to fight what he considers an unfair system.
Safety filmed on locations in both Clemson, South Carolina and Atlanta, Georgia.