An interview with SURA KHAN | THE CHAMBERS - IN GOD WE TRUST | VMA September 2022
A series inspired by "The West Wing," "House of Cards," and "Madam Secretary." but from the judicial point of view, how operations behind the walls of Justice take place, not showing the courtroom at all.
This is the winning idea of Sura Khan, nephew of actress Virginia Capers, (Grandma Hattie Banks - The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Mama Holiday - Lady Sings The Blues), and others.
Sura, a producer, director, and writer had the honor of being able to build his career from a very young age thanks to his enthusiasm for the industry and under the supervision of Ms. Capers.
Through his huge passion, he was able to understand the mechanics and build his own filmmaking imprint that led him to win at the Vegas Movie Awards™ with his project "Sura Khan's The Chambers - In God We Trust."
Today we have the honor of knowing more about his career and artistic philosophy. Enjoy the interview!
• First of all, welcome Sura, and congratulations on your win here at the VMAs with your project! Before we begin, would you like to give our audience a brief introduction of yourself?
Thank you, it is amazing for me to be here. We are honored to receive two awards from the VMAs; the statues are impressive and look beautiful on display in my office. I have been in this industry for many years in various jobs. I am a writer, producer, and director with a passion for storytelling, and have just begun to spread my wings.
• You are a 30-year veteran of the entertainment industry. When did your career in the industry begin and what are the most significant highlights in your path for you?
My aunt is the late Tony Award-winning actor Virginia Capers. She is best known for her role as Grandma Hattie Banks on the NBC hit sitcom, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, starring Will Smith. When Virginia was visiting us (The family) back in 1977, I told her how much I wanted to be an actor like her. I shared my enthusiasm about her performance in the film "Lady Sings The Blues" starring Diana Ross. Virginia played the role of (Mama Holiday) and how much I enjoyed watching her host the annual Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon. To my surprise, the words that proceeded from her mouth would change my life forever. "Would you like to join me at the telethon this year and help us out"? I was filled with joy and anticipation about where this new adventure would lead me. It was the beginning of my career in television and the arts. Thanks to Virginia Capers, who saw this spark of light in me and decided that she would nurture it at that moment.
I love to discover, uncover and help develop what is sitting up inside others.
• Your style is unique and immediately recognizable. Who or what inspired you the most to build your cinematic 'footprint'?
Thank you! I try to be different and, most of all, trust what I see in my mind. As previously stated, Actor Virginia Capers introduced me to the professional world of entertainment when I was only (13) years old. She opened a door for me that would shape my mind and help me see what was possible. She put me around mentors that would leave a mark on me and help me develop into the Sura Khan I am today.
I've connected with Actors Yul Brynner, Debbie Allan, Liza Minnelli, and Ben Vereen. Music conductor Bobby Rosengarden, actor Julius La Rosa, John, and Patty Duke Aston, among other influential notables over the years, were a blessing for me. Meeting these people was a gift Virginia gave me because she saw my passion early on and decided that she would help me develop in the arts. All that wisdom and inspiration play a big part in my cinematic footprint.
• You wrote, directed, and produced your award-winning project Sura Khan's The Chambers - In God We Trust. Is there an aspect of filmmaking that you feel comfortable delegating?
Oh absolutely! I'm very comfortable delegating. I realized a long time ago that I couldn't and shouldn't do it all. I love to discover, uncover and help develop what is sitting up inside others. Recognizing a blessing when it appears before you in another individual is crucial to your advancement in the arts. I'm a leader and very comfortable in my skin. On set, I encourage my actors to be collaborative, not competitive, and this helps them bring my vision to light in a compelling way. Leadership is an art form all in itself. I have been told, I do it very well.
• The series revolves around the controversy in Judge Kimble's first high-profile case in his first term as a Supreme Court justice. How he handles this challenging situation will reveal how Kimble will use his power to manage his office and Chambers. What gave you the inspiration for the creation of your award-winning project?
The series is inspired by shows like "The West Wing," "House of Cards," and "Madam Secretary." While watching these shows over the years, I would say to myself, "Someone should do a show like these drama hits but from the judiciary side and not show the courtroom at all but focus on how the operations behind the walls of Justice are running." Then it came to me, do it yourself; Sura Khan and I started writing. I send a heartfelt thank you and appreciation to television creator/writer Aaron Sorkin for inspiring me.
• What were the challenges you faced in creating your series?
Being prepared was so important for me. I sat on this project for seven years and decided it was time to bring it forward. What I didn’t see coming was the pandemic. We shot this in the middle of this global crisis. Stopping wasn't an option for me. My ability to lead was truly tested. All the restrictions and fears from the actors and crew were challenging for me, but here we are today with 38 Award wins under our belt, two of them from VMAs.
• Several talented Cast and Crew members participated in this project, making your series very solid and entertaining. What is your personal formula for creating and maintaining strong chemistry and motivation on and off the set?
I agree, the talent was amazing. Again, it all boils down to your leadership style. In the beginning, I spent weeks looking for the right crew to produce this pilot. I appointed a solid team of people and then decided not to use any of them just two weeks before we were scheduled to begin filming. I replaced everyone. It was that following my gut instinct. It wasn't personal, and it was a professional call that many on my team couldn't understand. Something wasn't sitting right with me, and I couldn't put my finger on it. So, I decided everyone had to go. It was a tough call but the right call. Look at where we are now.
• In your opinion, what makes this project unique, and what do you think are its strengths for possible distribution?
It's never been done before from this perspective (Judiciary). There's no show focusing on a Judge and his crucial staff that moves the court system. No one knows what goes on behind those walls of the courtroom. We see how cases are selected and all the moving parts. We see law clerks in action and the politics in American justice. The viewing public will be interested in learning these things. The show is entertaining and informative. I’m excited to announce that the pilot will stream on Amazon Prime Video, launching on January 7, 2023. The reviews and statistics will help me decide where to place the entire season (1) of the series we will begin filming in Spring 2023. We have the option to move the series if I choose to. We are excited to finally see the public's response to the pilot, thanks to Prime Video for seeing what many have seen with this project. The Pilot has a 9.3 rating on IMDb.
• What, if any, are your future professional plans, and where can our audience follow you?
I plan to keep creating and discovering new talent. I have a vision for stories and the ability to bring them forth. I believe in myself and the time. I want to create opportunities for actors and crew to display what's sitting up inside of them. Most importantly control my intellectual property and destiny.
Readers can follow us at the links below and watch the Full Episode here: https://www.amazon.com/Trouble-In-Chambers/dp/B0B8J658K5
• Thank you for being with us today and delighting our audience with your expertise! Is there anyone you would like to dedicate the last lines of this interview to?
Thank you for having me and awarding us two of your prestigious Vegas Movie Awards™. Special thanks to the fantastic cast, who won several awards for best ensemble, and the talented team members for a well-done job. I couldn't have done this without my Producing partner Bobby Bostick who saw my vision and stopped at nothing to help me see it through. Finally, I sincerely thank Kenny Sattaur, Terri Patterson– Associate Producer, and all the Film Festivals- for recognizing the series as a unique and special project.
IMDb - https://www.imdb.com/title/tt20722604/?ref_=ext_shr_lnk LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/sura-khan-561a9347/ Website - https://thechambersseries.com Twitter - https://twitter.com/tv_chambers Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/TheChambersSeries/ Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100081437483454