Director Savanah Leaf, and stars Tia Nomore and Erika Alexander talk about the realities of a Black mother making tough decisions for her children in the A24 film Earth Mama, which also features rapper Doechii.
The film made a huge splash at Sundance and came to theaters in a limited capacity last month. The film follows Gia (Nomore) a mother who is faced with making a big decision for her family as she is set to bring another life into the world. Leaf said that even though the film was the first script she’d ever written, she developed more inspiration for the film as she completed her documentary short The Heart Still Hums, which follows five women as they fight for the kids while battling poverty, homelessness, drug addictions and generational neglect. She also drew from her own life.
“I was kind of drawing a lot of inspiration from me, how I met my sister through my sister’s birth mother and I was drawing inspiration from all the different mothers who have impacted me throughout my life, whether it was my mother or my friends’ mothers, or different coaches and teachers,” she said.
Nomore said she felt like Gia was a character made up of both she and Leaf.
“I feel like Gia is very much a combination of both of us…I see more of each of us shining through a little bit,” she said, adding that creating the character with Leaf was a creative process.
“The only thing I could compare to is making music with one another,” she continued. “It’s kind of like somebody might hear something that doesn’t exist. And then when you bring it to life, and that’s all.”
Alexander, who plays Miss Carmen, talked more about the issues Gia is facing.
“Well, this is a story about a woman who’s facing a dilemma that’s partly of her own making and she’s invited people into [her] life who are trying to help her cross over a very hard, rocky space, and there’s no good way out of it. You know she’s going to have to sacrifice something…and she’s struggling with personal issues,” she said. “She’s already lost two children. She’s got one on the way. She’s gonna have to make some decisions. And the baby is coming. It’s on a timeline. I mean, it’s even got a natural clock it’s built in, and she’s going to have to do something about it. she’s gonna have to do something that’s right for all of them.”
“That’s what the limit is. She doesn’t know what’s right for all of them,” she continued. “The child that she’s caring, she knows needs her instinctively, but would not know her if she had to give her up. It might be easier. But the other two are suffering now because they do know her, and they miss her, and they and they love her, and she sees them suffering. She doesn’t know what to do. But then also the government is coming down on her with the list of requirements, and there’s nothing to get over poverty, deep poverty[.]”
Earth Mama is now available in select theaters and VOD.