For the fourth Father’s Day in a row, Black Love, Inc. is sharing a visual memoir that celebrates Black fathers in Hollywood, ultimately to dismantle the longstanding narrative that Black men tend to not be present in their children’s lives. The memoir, titled Father Noir and spearheaded by award-winning filmmaker, producer and photographer Tommy Oliver (CEO and founder of Confluential Films), poignantly captures stars like Michael Ealy, J. Alphonse Nicholson, Lance Gross, David Oyelowo, and more in candid moments with their children.

“It started a couple of years ago,” Oliver told Blavity. “It’s weird that today there’s still a lack of appropriate positive representation of Black dads. And there’s still a persisting narrative, even if the facts say something different, about Black dads not being present. I’m somebody who’s a firm believer in the idea of seeing is believing. And so that’s where [Father Noir] came from.

Oliver, who founded Black Love Inc. alongside his wife, Codie Elaine Oliver, also shared that his “dad wasn’t around” when he was growing up. Now, he’s the father he dreamed of having, and its men like himself that he wants to celebrate and amplify.

“Being able to see other dads with their kids and their loving relationships, and that was a little [thought] of, ‘I wish I had that.’ But I don’t, I didn’t. But now, I have that with my kids. And so, to see those moments and see that love to see the way that my kids look at me, and the way that these kids look at their dad, I can’t help but to get emotional about that.”

Blavity also spoke to Nicholson and Gross about fatherhood, their work, and the importance of projects like Father Noir.

Photo: Black Love

What does being a father mean to you?

JN: Everything. I think that’s the only way to answer that question. It’s the reason I move through life the way I do, the reason why I always put my best foot forward in any situation I’m in [because] I’m representing myself, my children, my wife and ultimately, my family.

LG: It’s the most important role that I’ve ever taken on. [Fatherhood] is just great. To have these little beings that came from you, that are so impressionable, and just look up to you, being able to be a huge impact on their lives and lead them and protect them is everything to me. Plus, I’m a big kid myself, so it gives me a chance to do all the childish things that I want to do.

What is raising Black children look like in 2024?

JN: I wish my wife was sitting right here with me, because she’s so on top of the nuances that go into raising Black children.I focus on teaching them to always be themselves..especially my son, you know. I want to make sure he never feels like he has to put on the cool, like you are cool. And no matter how you move through this world, teaching them very proper etiquette, when it comes to respecting elders and my son, more importantly, teaching him that was respecting Black women, all women. There’s a very high level of regard that we care for your mother and your sister, your family, your grandmother…all these people, you treat with a lot of respect, because there’s a stereotype, unfortunately–and also some truth in i– that Black men don’t treat women well, or we don’t have respect for the women in our lives. I want to make sure thatI break that narrative for him, and teach him those things.

LG: It’s the opportunity to raise strong, selflessness, kids that are proud of where they come from. I’m big on that. I’m proud of my lineage. I am a proud to be Black. I feel like we’re the strongest when we know our history and culture, and pass that down to our children. I look forward to that every day.

How do you balance being an artist, husband and father?

JN: It’s extremely tough because you miss your family. I can’t tell you how much I miss my son and my wife, my daughter, and you know, even my mom and my sister, siblings, everybody. Even though we all live in different parts of the country, we find time to spend time with each other. You have to put the work in. I call it, ‘going to get the buffalo.’ Go find the buffalo, hunt it, do what you got to do [to] come back with the buffalo head. Now you got your coat, you got your meat, you got your food. That’s the analogy for me.

LG: I make a point to include them as much as I can. If there’s room, then I’ll bring them with me or have them fly out to visit me. If I have a couple of days off, I’ll come home spend time with them. I think the most important thing for me is to just include them as much as possible.

Why are projects like Father Noir important for the Black community?

JN: I think fatherhood is just one of those things that we talk about, but we don’t really explore that often, especially within groups of fathers. And then sometimes obviously, you can have a lot of trauma behind fatherhood in the Black community, with fathers being absent within those households, we need to bring healthy conversations around it: beautiful photos, wonderful conversations like this that are able to give some insight from young fathers like myself. Not everything is perfect, but you strive to make it better every day.

LG: People need to see this. There’s a stigma about Black fatherhood and fathers not being around, but in my circle of friends, they’re the most amazing fathers in the world. Every father should be celebrated.

Nicholson is currently filming P-Valley Season 3, and shares with Blavity that fans can expect “a lot more elevated work performance” from the new season.

As for Gross, he tells Blavity that he’s finally hit a stride in his career. “I’m more comfortable in my projects and I can pick my projects now. I’m just picking stuff that’s meaningful for me that that inspires me.”