‘Love always wins,’ Henson says of role in ‘Best of Enemies’
groups in a single room was through a charette. It was a concept that was used mostly in business circles to resolve conflicts in a systematic way.
Bill Riddick, a black man and consultant, came up with a way to use the charette to deal with school integration. Riddick, who is still alive, showed up on set in 2017 as an adviser. “He was instrumental in making sure the arguments we had in the film were accurate,” said Dominique Telson, a co-executive producer.
Telson said Riddick found both Ann and C.P. insufferable at first. One of the funniest scenes was when Riddick forced blacks and whites to sit together during lunch and talk. Ann and C.P. acted like angry elementary schoolchildren. But as the characters got to know each other, their relationship became a friendship.
“The key is something we can still use today, which is you have to stop fighting and start listening for once,” said Telson. “That’s the goal of the charette. He didn’t choose sides. He just wanted both sides to talk and sometimes you can get a great outcome.”
Henson said social media is now just the opposite: people hurling insults at each other, digging in their heels rather than seeking common ground. “I think the world needs a big charette,” Henson said. “What I learned from Ann is change is worth fighting for and you must become the change you want to see.”
Once Ann stopped fighting with C.P., “when she tapped into her Christianity and loved him with the love of God unconditional and all inclusive, that’s how she was able to get him to change.”
Henson hopes the film sends a positive message that “love always wins. Hate never does. Hate’s objective is to destroy. If hate wins, mankind is destroyed. Love will keep us alive. It means loving the enemy.”