Access Pollywood: ‘Concussion’ Premieres in D.C.

by Erica Moody

At a screening for Will Smith’s latest film, Dr. Omalu explains how science and faith go hand-in-hand.  

By Rita Khawand

Dr. Bennet Omalu (Photo by Rita Khawand)

Dr. Bennet Omalu (Photo by Rita Khawand)

Actor Will Smith’s on-screen portrayals have tackled everything from space aliens (Men in Black franchise and Independence Day) to Joe Frazier (Ali). But in his latest film, “Concussion,” Smith tackles his most formidable opponent yet: the mighty NFL. The inspiration for the film that pits corporate interests against player safety is Dr. Bennet Omalu. Omalu, who Smith portrays in the film, met up with Washington Life at a Washington red carpet screening of the film that’s generating lots of Oscar buzz. Omalu tells Washington Life how his faith inspired his journey that’s so eloquently told on the big screen:

“Because of my faith, because of the ‘call’ that we must help one another, that we must do for others what we want to be done for us, I had to become the voice for the voiceless.”

Throughout the film, Dr. Omalu is seeking the truth behind the deaths of multiple NFL players. Dr. Omalu received a lot of backlash and negative criticism for his routine way of determining a person’s cause of death through autopsies and multiple diagnostic tests. He was belittled, and even mocked, while doing his job and relying on his knowledge and faith to seek a person’s truth after their death.

Knowing the truth in all aspects will always satisfy a person’s soul even if that truth is not good news. “Science is in search of the truth. Faith is in search of the truth,” Omalu says, adding that he believes there is a “commonality of purpose between the two” and that “the truth will set you free.”

“So I was highly educated, [and] very knowledgeable in science; in a specialty in science, and I used it out of love to make a difference in the lives of other people.” Dr. Omalu is adamant about the fact that faith forced him to take the necessary steps in order to prevail in his career while also staying true to himself.

“Whatever I do, I do to serve my fellow men. People might not understand it, but when you enhance the lives of other people, paradoxically, you are enhancing your own self. You become enriched.”

Concussion” is now playing in theaters nationwide. 

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