‘Drumline: A New Beat’ Director Says Female Lead, Gay Love Story Set VH1 Sequel Apart From Original

“It’s about a girl, a female coming into this world that many people think of as being more male driven, and trying to get respect,” Bille Woodruff tells TheWrap


“Drumline: A New Beat” won’t just pick up where the original 2002 feature film left off. According to director Bille Woodruff, the VH1 original movie will put a new spin on the story of the Atlanta A&T University drumline, with stepped up routines, a gay love story and a female lead.

“The story will be different because it’s about a girl, a female coming into this world that many people think of as being more male driven, and trying to get respect,” Woodruff tells TheWrap.

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“A New Beat,” which airs Monday night on VH1, stars Alexandra Shipp as Danielle “Dani” Raymond, an ambitious Brooklyn girl who defies her parents, and sets off for the fictional, historically black A&T, in hopes of becoming the school’s first female drum section leader.

Woodruff says Dani’s groundbreaking quest is one of several things that set the sequel apart.

“We have new routines and the new things that have evolved in the world of drumlines and the performances.”

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Metro Goldwyn Mayer
Metro Goldwyn Mayer

To get those routines just right, the film’s creative team brought in renowned band leader, Don P. Roberts, who also served as executive band consultant on the first film. Then, they put out a casting call for real band members.

“People came from all over the South and the Southern colleges to make up our bands,” Woodruff said. “We didn’t have the prep time that they had on the first one and it had to be people that knew what they were doing.”

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The original “Drumline” was based on the life story of music producer Dallas Austin, and starred then up-and-comers Nick Cannon, Zoe Saldana and Orlando Jones. Cannon has a cameo in the sequel and serves as an executive producer, along with Wendy Finerman, Jody Gerson and Austin, who produced the first film.

The follow-up features a host of new characters including Dani’s rival Jayven (Jordan Calloway), Tasha (Jasmine Burke) and Josh (Scott Shilstone) who round out the freshman drumline. Also, joining the cast — former Destiny’s Child member LeToya Luckett and newcomer Rome Flynn, who plays the openly gay Leon.

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“We have a gay character, we have a love story that’s very new and that’s very different from the first movie.”

The original film grossed more than $56 million at the box office. Now VH1 is hoping fans of the first film, along with a new generation of viewers will boost the sequel to ratings success.

“Drumline: A New Beat” airs Monday at 9 p.m. ET on VH1.