Everett Osborne Talks Taking On NBA Legend Nathaniel Clifton In New Film “Sweetwater”

  Everett OsbornePhoto Credit: Ian Fisher

Today, a piece of NBA history is going to be told with the nationwide release of Sweetwater, a biopic revolving around NBA legend Nathaniel “Sweetwater” Clifton. The sports biopic — which is out today — tells Clifton’s story, and his journey to becoming the first ever African American to sign a NBA contract (from the Harlem Globetrotters to the New York Knicks), forever changing how the game of basketball is played. Sweetwater’s story marks a pivotal turn in basketball history, helping pave the way for so many that came after him. He was a trailblazer for the sport of basketball.

This impactful sports icon is played by Los Angeles born actor Everett Osborne, whose first role, straight out of college, was “Dante Grand” in Nike’s Want It All short film, directed by F. Gary Gray (Straight Outta Compton). This award-winning ad featured LeBron James and Kevin Durant and became a global phenomenon with over 50 million views upon releasing. Shortly after, Osborne shifted his career focus and left the U.S. to begin his professional basketball career in Australia, where he played for multiple years. Essentially, he was perfect for Sweetwater. Here, Osborne takes us on his journey from the screen to the court and back again.
Everett OsbornePhoto Credit: Tyree Harris

Going back to your audition for this role, why did you initially want to be a part of “Sweetwater”?

To be completely honest, when I read “the untold true story of the First African American to sign an NBA contract” there was an indescribable call from within and I knew it was time. I was completely blown away that I’ve never heard of this hero and was inspired beyond belief to learn and discover who this human being was.

This is your first lead role in a film. What surprised you about the filmmaking process?

Most breakthroughs are supported by years of preparation so everything about the filmmaking process feels like home. I would say that witnessing this all star cast full of veterans show up every day with the passion and enthusiasm of a newcomer surprised me the most. Huge shoutout to my all star teammates Cary Elwes, Jeremy Piven, Richard Dreyfuss and Kevin Pollak.

What do you want people to take away from the film?

Chiefly, my want is for awareness to be lifted amongst the audience about who Nat Sweetwater Clifton is. The journey of a trailblazer leaves gems for all to receive so I know people will leave differently than when they entered the theatre. The hope is for them to be inspired to live out their highest purpose as individuals and as a human collective.

Who was someone you connected with strongly on set? What did they teach you?

Martin Guigi. Our director, writer and composer. Our bond was instantaneously formed in a magical way when we met during my last audition. Watching him direct with such attentiveness and sensitivity was inspirational and noteworthy.

Everett OsbornePhoto Credit: Tyree Harris

As an actor, what pushes you to work harder?

As an actor, the infinite discovery and growth that exists in the human experience is what drives me the most. It’s truly a journey of joy. My drive to work hard is fueled by curiosity that I’ve had since a child. I would say I have an inquisitive nature.

Do you have any advice you’d give to your younger self knowing what you know now?

Your wildest dreams aren’t wild. Life’s obstacles thrown at you to make you feel like you aren’t enough are simply the rules of this game and don’t take it personal. Choose to have fun and be happy. You don’t have to be perfect to be loved so don’t chase perfection. Enjoy the ride of ups and downs because everything is working together for your good.

You have previous basketball experience? Can you share a story with us from your basketball days before you were an actor if so?

I do, played professionally in Australia for a few years. I actually started acting and playing ball as a child. Waking up at 4:30 am every morning to train and workout is what comes to mind when I think about basketball days. The dedication, discipline and commitment to excellence. Working out three times a day, studying film, taking care of your body, monitoring your diet etc. You prepare more than you actually play so you end up making preparation the joy of it all. Win or lose my approach was the same. I was never driven by results, just loved the process.

If you were to be cast in a reboot of a series or film what would it be and who would you want to play?

Bringing John Stewart the Green Lantern back to life would be fun. To explore his multi dimensional journey of growing in power and becoming the strongest against all odds would be an adventure. Plus, green has always been my favorite color.

What do you have coming up next?

Is there ever really next? Now is where all the juice will forever be. Sweetwater is finally getting his recognition. This script has been 28 years in the making so we’re leaning in to this moment. I will say, making time to share with loved ones is paramount on my to do list. There’s also more stories inside of me to tell, all to be revealed in due time.