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  • Shayna has made the worst mistake of her life and she’s headed to prison.

    She’s ready to pay for her crime. But the MEMORY that haunts her…

    …the look on her children’s faces.

  • She asks for one last chance to see her kids.

    But when they refuse to say goodbye, she’s forced to make other plans.

  • There are lots of Black and Brown mothers who live with the trauma of child/parent separation.

    Many appear in this story.

    Just because you made a mistake doesn’t mean you don’t love your kids.

Watch the trailer

We want the film to lead to individual and societal change

Film production can do more than tell a story. It can also be a new beginning.

The Never Can Say Goodbye Workshop is a first-of-its-kind attempt to merge a film production and a social justice initiative into one mutually beneficial collaborative experience. Our measure of success is gauged by the people we intend to help.

Learn More

Director’s Statement

Hi, I’m Chris Grant

I want to make the universal strength of black families accessible on film, to have the world see them on screen and rejoice. NEVER CAN SAY GOODBYE is a story about the strength and self-determination in one family to stay together. It’s about fighting for your right to exist on your own terms and by your own hand.

Black parents who struggle with the Child Protective Services (CPS) system in the United States can’t tell you how hard it is to be poor and a person of color. The process is hopelessly bureaucratic; overloaded agencies, a legal system in disarray, and family court bias that adjudicates families too strictly. Once encountered, the system is very difficult to escape. The parentsI’ve spoken to in my research call it “the loop.”

I want to bring the loop into the light and invite you to experience the issue firsthand. I’m certain you’ll see why one family’s choice to fight back is really an act of true heroism for families everywhere.

Meet the Cast

Lead Actress

Crystal Lucas-Perry


Crystal Lucas-Perry is an American actress. She is known for her performances on Broadway acting in the musical revival of 1776, and the Jordan E. Cooper sketch-play Ain’t No Mo’, the later of which earned her a Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actress in a Play.

Supporting Cast

  • Shaundra Patterson

    Court Officer

    Shaundra Patterson, moved to New York in 2015 from her Virginia were she was born and raised. An alumni to Virginia Commonwealth University, she began her acting career on stage at the Firehouse Theatre in Richmond, Virginia. After starring in various stage plays, she eventually began acting in television and film, taking on different roles on projects such as the final season of Power, and Monsters Inside Me.

  • Noah Molinari

    Corey Nadal

    Noah Molinari just recently turned 7 years old and currently resides in southern New Jersey with his family. He has been acting for a little over a year, and loves to travel to NYC for shoot days, which are usually very early in the morning and include donuts! His fav! When he isn’t filming, he is busy in 1st grade. His favorite subject is Math. He enjoys swimming and riding his bike without training wheels. Most recently he has started playing little league baseball. He is looking forward to a career in film, becoming the next Spiderman, or a police officer when he grows up. Never Can Say Goodbye is his first short film.

  • Noel Wood

    Deon Nadal

    Hey, I’m Noel Wood, I am 9 years of age and I reside in New York City. I attend an elementary school in Harlem Sorjouner Truth. I love Anime, playing basketball and I enjoy cooking with my mom. This is my first film and I can’t wait to go further in my acting career.

  • Lilianne Amina Hamilton

    LaShonda Nadal

    Lilianne Amina Hamilton, nickname Lily (born October 26,2014) is an American Singer and Actress. Lilianne was born in Brooklyn, New York. She’s a 4th grade student at P.S 159 Waverly for the Gifted and Talented. She was born to immigrant parents, Princess Fornah and Barrington Hamilton. Lilianne’s first paid acting role was from the Movie Jigsaw in (2021). The movie was filmed and produced by Netflix production. Lilianne’s second job was in December 2021.titled: (THA GOD’S HONEST TRUTH). She was interviewed by casting directors to choose between Jesus and Santa during the Christmas Season. Lilianne was booked for the role of Nira (Unbranded) for the Prostate Cancer Project Pharma Commercial, (2022). As a young actor, one of her on screen performances was in the movie Titles: (CHRISTMAS IN JULY) (2023). She played the role of Cassandra, the little sister of Kenya. She also landed the role of LaShonda. A true story, where folks became inspired. As they keep hope alive while enduring the African American experience. Another true story Titled: (NEVER CAN SAY GOODBYE) came alive on the big screen. It was filmed on the actual courthouse location in the Bronx Supreme Court in July,2023. She auditioned for a television show called (EVIL LIVES HERE) Ep:815. A true story, where she played the role of the daughter (June,2023). Lilianne sang a Solo Cabaret the Eurovision (Bare Necessities), at the SoHo Playhouse in Manhattan, New York (June,2023)etc.

    Lilianne’s acting and vocal training continues.

  • Martin Guggenheim


  • Michael Rooney

    Defense Lawyer

    Michael Patrick Rooney has been defending New Yorkers accused of crimes for 24 years. He is currently an anchor attorney with the Homicide Defense Task Force of The Legal Aid Society.

    At every opportunity, Michael endeavors to make the legal system acknowledge the humanity of the people forced into it, which is why he is so proud and grateful to work on The Sugar Hill Express.

Meet the Creatives

  • Producers

    • Hashmiru Ahamad Sesay


      Hashmiru Ahamad Sesay is a Sierra Leonean-American Producer who brings life to stories that explore socio-political themes through comedy and surrealism. He received his BFA in Film and Video Production from The City College of New York and his MFA in Cinema Arts from Brooklyn College Feirstein School of Cinema.

      The short “Day of Joy”, which he co-directed, wrote, and produced, is currently available on Amazon Prime Video. “Hysterical Justice,” his satirical documentary exploring race in America, was awarded Best Short Film at the 2022 Katra Summer Film Series. Hashmiru is dedicated to collaborations that incubate fresh ideas rooted in his unique lens.

      He is currently on staff with Very Rare Productions in production management.

    • Chris Grant

      Producer, Writer, Director

      Chris Grant is a filmmaker based in New York City and a 2018 Sundance Labs Fellow. After attending NYU Grad film, his short films won numerous festival awards including screenings in the Showtime Black Filmmaker’s Showcase, The Clark Atlanta Festival, and The Mill Valley Film Festival.

      During a prolific career in television marketing, Chris was proud to become the first African American Creative Director for two of the Discovery Channel.

      Chris tells stories of the African American experience finding hope, addressing themes of justice, transformation, and complex family dynamics.

      The Sugar Hill Express, a Sundance Labs script, will be his debut feature film.

    • Crystal Lucas-Perry

      Producer, Lead Acress

      Crystal Lucas-Perry is an American actress. She is known for her performances on Broadway acting in the musical revival of 1776, and the Jordan E. Cooper sketch-play Ain’t No Mo’, the later of which earned her a Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actress in a Play.

  • Executive Producers

    • Kaream Appleton

      Executive Producer

      After eight years with Very Rare Productions, Kaream stepped into his current role as Head of Production in 2022. His skills as a Line Producer are only matched by his passion for mentoring the next generation of Producers. He is committed to pushing the boundaries of capture, creating opportunities for a diverse group of talented Artists, and building a corner of the industry that thrives on positive collaboration. He lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn and visits his home city of Kingston Jamaica regularly.

    • Monique Perreault

      Executive Producer

      As the Founder of Very Rare Productions, Monique is always on a quest to elevate her team and develop individual talent. She learned the craft of storytelling on the ground, leading her to have an out of the box approach to commercial and narrative capture. Her emphasis on clear communication, transparency with finances and respect for craft makes her an ally for Clients, Artists and Crew. Over the years she has gained the trust of many and instills the importance of integrity throughout the Very Rare team. She calls The Bronx home with her Husband, Chris Ehrmann of Goldteeth & Co., and their young Son Greyson.

  • Lead Drama Therapist

    • Adam D-F. Stevens

      Lead Drama Therapist

      Adam D-F. Stevens (they|them), MA, RDT. They are a Registered Drama Therapist (RDT) who works primarily with adolescents in the Tri-state area. Their role includes supporting queer, POC, and nuerodiverse youth in transforming their loss, grief, and trauma into unapologetic, abundant joy and empowerment. Adam serves as an adjunct faculty member in the Creative Arts Therapy Programs at Antioch University in Seattle, and New York University and Marymount Manhattan College in NYC. They have sat on the Board of Directors for the North American Drama Therapy Association (NADTA) as Chair of the Cultural Humility, Equity, and Diversity Committee. Adam currently sits on the Board of Directors for the National Alliance for Children’s Grief (NACG). They were named Artistic Director for the Collideoscope Repertory Theatre Company (CRTC) by NYU in 2020. CRTC’s mission is to advance racial justice and healing through artful affinity and performance. Their research focuses on offering space for Black clients to reclaim racialized roles and deconstruct stereotypes connected to generational and historical trauma and grief. Adam’s superpowers are rooted in the fantastical forces of creativity and love.

Are you a parent seeking support or individual looking to help?

These advocate organizations shine light on racial inequity and bias in the child welfare system.

Have thoughts or Feedback? Want to tell us your story?

Send us Your Thoughts

We have been working on the film and workshop project for years. We are eager and excited to hear your thoughts. We welcome any and all feedback! If you feel comfortable, we would love to hear and highlight your story, too.

In the meantime, check out our social media profiles

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Brohawk Films
In association with
Second Home Pictures
A Film
The Grant Brother

Hash Sesay
Christopher Grant
Crystal Lucas-Perry

Written and Directed By
Christopher Grant

Executive Producers
Monique Perreault
Kaream Appleton
Bennie de Grasse

Crystal Lucas Perry

Supporting Cast
Shaundra Patterson
Lillianne A. Hamilton
Noah Molinari
Noel Wood

Director of Photography
Geoff Taylor

Production Designer
Oak Laokwansathitaya

Dylan Matthews
Joel Douris

Wardrobe Stylist
Tamika Duncan

Music Composer
Jad Jacob

Casting Director
Aika Greenidge

Lead Drama Therapist
Adam Stevens


Never Can Say Goodbye was created to give people a voice.

The background cast of this film is 100% comprised of courageous parents who have dealt with the ongoing trauma of child/parent separation.


Courthouse Lobby Cast
Ericka Brewington
Manny Prince
Chaniece Trotman
Michael Adams
Zyirr Johnson
Shamara Kelly
Kmea Jones
Cassandra Gonzalez
Shakira Paige
Gelisha Paige
Ashanti Ortiz
Kenya Franklin
Loren Horton
Jahtik Hendricks
Shakira Kennedy
Katherine Gerald
Halana Richardson
Vanessa Cobbs
Katherine Gerald
Jusinta Jaggassar-Ernul
Henry Simmons


Shayna Nadal – Crystal Lucas-Perry
Defense Lawyer – Michael Rooney
Court Officer – Shaundra Patterson
Deon Nadal – Noel Wood
Corey Nadal – Noah Molinari
LaShonda Nadal – Lillianne A. Hamilton
Kid’s Lawyer – Christina Cobb
Brave Woman – Ericka Brewington

Unit Production Manager
Elizabeth Balla

First Assistant Director
Alex Hinojosa

Second Assistant Director
Rafael Alvarado

Production Coordinator
Vincent Ferguson

Script Supervisor
Amina Hamawy

Production Assistants
Alexandra Alston
Grant Moyer
Rob Esther

Production Design
Oak Laokwansathitaya
Props Assistant
Mayra Gutierrez

Director of Photography
Geoffrey Taylor

1st Assistant Camera
Marcus Odom

B Camera Operator
Lorenzo Pace

2nd Assistant Camera / Media Manager
Cristina Gomez

Steadicam Operator
Clarke Smith

Crane Operator
Chuck Goslin

BTS Videographer
Jenna Pace
Elliot Guilbe

Thomas Hatteau
Chris Burke

Key Grip
Akil Jones

Best Grip
Gleydi Santana

Best Electric
Emeka Chukwurah

Sound Recordist
Keisha Jackson

Boom Operator
Taiquis Hayes

Makeup Artist
Tia Rivers

Hair Stylist
Stacy Gray

Wardrobe Stylist
Tamika Duncan

Drama Therapists
Idalmis Garcia
Jennifer Richards

Post Production Services
Mattock Editorial

Visual FX/Title Design
Ana Pinto

Vincent Taylor

Title Design
Ana Pinto

Sound recording studio

Never Can Say Goodbye Workshop Coordinator
Pamela Wilks

Never Can Say Goodbye Workshop Assistant
Beautiful Robinson

Never Can Say Goodbye Workshop Assistant
Jezreel Managaytay

Catering Services
Maestro’s Catering
Gotham Catering

Special Thanks
Ashraf Habibullah
Asif Habibullah
Darlene Liebman – Creative Humans
Joyce MacMillan – JMACforFamilies
Ayami Hatanaka – JMACforFamilies
Emma Ketteringham – Bronx Defenders
Nila Natarajan – Brooklyn Defender Services
Tehra A. Coles – Center for Family Representation
Shalonda Curtis-Hackett – Neigborhood Defender Services – Harlem
Erin Miles Cloud – Movement for Family Power
Jeanette Vega – RISE Magazine
Nora McCarthy
Brian Hall
David Riker
Joan Darling
Michelle Satter
Ilyse McKimmie
Shira Rockowitz
Nicole Molinari
Princess Fornah
Ebone Eanes
Liz Lewis Casting
Rebecca Edelson
Madeline Wilks
Gary Wilks
Ella Wilks
Jon Wilks
Alison Wilks
Steven Wilks
Rebecca Wilks
Chris Ficarra
Nicole Sardone
Rebecca Dealy
Victoria Conmy
Steve Perski
Yhá Mourhia Wright
Hurriyah Muhammad
Ekwa Msangi
Giselle Modeste
Rae Dawn Brooks
Scott Terry
Jenna Pace


“Never Can Say Goodbye”
Written by Clifton Davis
Performed by – The Jackson 5
Courtesy of Universal Music Group


This film was made possible in-part by generous grants from
The Sundance Institute
Computers And Structures Inc.