This story about Niecy Nash and “Stolen by My Mother” first appeared in the Limited Series & Movies issue of TheWrap’s Emmy magazine.
The character that Niecy Nash plays in the Lifetime movie “Stolen by My Mother: The Kamiyah Mobley Story” was never on the set of the film, and couldn’t have been there if she wanted to — she’s serving an 18-year prison sentence for kidnapping an infant from a Florida hospital and raising the girl as her own daughter for almost 19 years.
In the film from director Jeffrey Byrd, Nash plays Gloria Williams, who slipped into the hospital disguised as a nurse, walked out with 8-hour-old Kamiyah Mobley — whom she renamed Alexis — and took the baby home. There, family and friends assumed the child belonged to Williams, who’d hidden her recent miscarriage and was desperate to give her abusive boyfriend the baby he wanted.
“It’s not about what you would do and it’s not about how you would be — you have to constantly stay in the lens of the character,” Nash said of her struggle to understand Williams’ actions. “And when you’re playing people who are still alive, there is an onus on you to get it right.”
The film, which stars Rayven Ferrell as Kamiyah and Ta’Rhonda Jones as her birth mother, Shanara Mobley, doesn’t try to excuse the abduction, but neither does it shy away from the fact that Williams was an abused woman who raised the child she’d stolen in an atmosphere of love.
“The thing that you can never judge is someone else’s pain,” Nash said. “And I don’t think that she made this decision from a whole place. There was a lot of pain and anxiety and mental stress that brought her to this place. And I know that in spite of all the pain and all the tragedy that Gloria went through, the love that she had for Kamiyah was real.
“And the painful part of it is that there are no winners in this story — not Shanara, Alexis/Kamiyah or Gloria. My heart completely breaks for Kamiyah, because she didn’t ask for any of it. And she ended up being torn away from the only mother she knew and estranged from the birth mother she didn’t know at all. She was the one that my heart grieved for.”
Kamiyah’s birth family spoke out against the film before it aired, and Nash said she understands their qualms. “But you have to remember that every woman has her own story, and this is Kamiyah’s version,” she said of the film that is narrated by the young woman. “Shanara has her own version. So does Gloria. I don’t discount the fact that someone may not agree with this version, but perspective is everything.”
Nash was nominated for an Emmy last year for “When They See Us,” Ava DuVernay’s limited series about the five African-American and Latino teenagers who were coerced into confessing to an assault they didn’t commit. The series delved into the mistreatment of young nonwhite men at the hands of the police — but the problem of underrepresentation, she said, is broader than that.
“I think it’s important that any outlet is making films about Black women, Black men, Black children,” she said of “Stolen by My Mother.” “But the world is bigger than just Black and white people, you know what I mean? You have stories about Muslims, stories about Asians, stories about Africans. I think we get stuck, and there is a whole group of people who are being underrepresented.”
To read more from the Limited Series & Movies issue, click here.