Legendary actress Octavia Spencer opened up about producing the emotional new documentary Right to Try.
Since the early 1980s the HIV/AIDS epidemic has impacted millions of people throughout the world.
Even though there are treatments like PrEP and the recently FDA-approved first-ever injectable prevention drug – a cure has yet to be discovered.
The new documentary Right to Try follows activist Jeffrey Drew – who is HIV positive – as he fights for more research to find a cure. Drew also discusses his own experience participating in an experimental medical trial.
The inspirational story caught the eye of Spencer who signed on to produce the film for a larger audience.
The Oscar winner has since opened up about the importance of the film during an interview with Out Magazine.
When asked how she stumbled upon the heartwrenching project, Spencer said she read about it in “an amazing” story from Mark Malkin in Variety.
“I got with my team over at my company, Brian Clisham, Stephanie Kluft, and we all agreed that we needed to see it. It was such a compelling article, and intriguing, and we just thought, ‘Well, I want to see this,’” she explained.
“When we saw it, we loved it, but we felt like it needed a little work and changing the narrative so that it was a little more cohesive.”
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She went on to say that after watching the film, she contacted the documentary’s director Zeberiah Newman with constructive notes for the project.
“We couldn’t believe how receptive he was to our notes and making sure that the narrative had a certain flow to it, and he agreed,” she said.
“So we got to work doing a re-edit on it, and we were able to get Katy Perry to give us a song for it.”
“What you see now is our involvement, although Zeb and Jeffrey had done a lot of great work and had a bunch of beautiful scenes. We just thought we could help streamline that narrative for them and for the world.”
Later in the interview, Spencer opened up about the importance of Jeffrey’s story and why this documentary needs to be seen in mainstream media.
“I do remember I was 10 years old when AIDS first came about, and I remember all of the fervor around it and the fear surrounding it. I think we’ve evolved to a certain extent with regard to taboo subjects, and medicine should not ever be taboo,” she said.
“Advancement in medications and medicine should never be taboo, especially if it saves lives, but until it started to cross over into mainstream life, it wasn’t talked about. So I think it’s important that stories like this get told.
“I think it’s important that people like Jeffrey exist because it is a reminder that if we didn’t have the advancement in medication, if we didn’t have the advancement in technology, if we didn’t have these people who were so brave to tell their story and to live openly and free, we don’t really know where we’d be with the drug manufacturing. Would they have continued to put it at the forefront, even?”
Right to Try is currently available on Peacock.
Watch the full trailer for the documentary below or by clicking here.