The inspiring real-life story of football player Ray "Ray Ray" McElrathbey (played by Jay Reeves) is depicted in the new Disney Plus movie Safety. The drama follows the Clemson University running back as he is forced to overcome obstacles, including pressure to succeed on the football field, dedicating time to school work, and raising his 11-year-old little brother, Fahmarr (played by Thaddeus J. Mixson).
Safety depicts the inspiring events that transpired while Ray attended Clemson, including a look at how the football player's teammates, like his roommate Daniel (played by Hunter Sansone), and the community impacted him in a positive and uplifting light.
Ray's mother battled substance abuse issues, which forced the teen to make a tough decision, let his little brother go into the foster care system or take Fay to South Carolina and secretly house him in his college dorm.
Distractify spoke exclusively with Hunter who plays Ray's friend and teammate, Daniel, in the new Disney Plus film. Check out our Q&A below! (Editor's note: This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.)
'Safety' star Hunter Sansone talks on-set brotherhood, overcoming obstacles, and more.
Distractify: Can you talk about your character Daniel and in what ways will we see him helping his roommate/teammate Ray?
Hunter Sansone: Daniel is the first person that Ray meets. He’s the first person he confides in about his little brother, Fahmarr, so what’s at the core theme of this movie is family. So, Daniel embodies that, the core theme itself, which is what really attracted me to him as a character. So, you’ll see Daniel throughout the film being there for him every step of the way.
This film really touches on this team feeling like a brotherhood. Did you and the rest of your castmates feel that comradery on-set?
HS: We were actually discussing that while we were on-set, how hard it would be to not fall into that when you have a story like this that you’re bringing to life. We had Ray McElrathbey, the actual person that the film is based off of, training us in the gym throughout the week. When you have the actual person the film is based off of committing himself to making the project everything that it can possibly be, it’s really hard not to fall into a family, brotherhood type of environment.
Can you talk about the understated pressure student athletes are under and how that is depicted in this film?
HS: I think they do a fantastic job at bringing that reality to life because that is a thing. … that’s a real thing that people face all the time. I hope it makes people admire what student athletes are because Ray was the true example of a real student athlete. The pressure is incredible that these young men go through and obviously, in this case, you add raising a little boy. It’s pretty impressive what these young men do.
Based on the trailer, this movie seems super inspiring because, at its core, it’s about overcoming obstacles and adversity in one’s life. Is there something in your own life that you may have had to overcome?
HS: I think everyone has ups and downs in their life and things that they have to overcome. I think anything worth getting is going to require going through obstacles. I’ve been blessed in my life to have a great family and a great childhood. My parents did get divorced when I was a little boy so that was something I did have to overcome and navigate, that was an obstacle that, at a young age, I think definitely shaped me into the man I am today.
Then, just achieving acting as a career, the percentage is not too high with making that. So, really dedicating myself to a craft that I am in love with and see myself doing nothing else, that takes fortitude and the ability to go through obstacles.
Safety is now available to stream on Disney Plus.