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When we interviewed Chanté Adams for the November/December issue of ESSENCE she shared the most important lesson she learned from Denzel Washington on the set of her upcoming film, A Journal for Jordan.

“As an actor himself, something that he told Michael and me almost every day was, ‘The universe stems from the specific. Any artist can be vague, any artist can give an overview, but it’s a great artist that will get specific,'” she told ESSENCE.

Washington directs the drama based on the book of the same by former New York Times reporter Dana Canedy. And when we asked him what detail was most important to get right in the movie which also stars Michael B. Jordan, he said it was the casting of Adams, who portrays Canedy in the film.

“When I’m casting, I always tell the casting people — in this case, also my producing partner and even Dana — ‘I only need one. I don’t need 10 Danas, I only need one, and I’ll know who it is when they walk in,'” Washington recalls to ESSENCE. “I put her through the ringer,” he adds of the casting process. “But when the two of them got in the room together, the chemistry was so strong I was like, ‘Okay, we got a movie now. We found Dana.'”

Sony Pictures

The feeling was mutual for Canedy whose love story with First Sergeant Charles Monroe King is at the center of the film. “She is classically trained and award-winning at a very young age so I knew she took her craft very seriously,” Canedy says of Adams. “She’s got an amazing spirit and an old soul. To watch her play a 10-year span in this movie — she did it so successfully because she is an old soul and she brought her heart to this.”

Canedy also shares that since working together on the movie, she and Adams have become like family. “We call each other sister now. We don’t even call each other by name very much,” she says. “She and her mother and father are going to be spending Christmas at my home. My son calls her Aunté and she’ll be in my life for the rest of my life. That’s my little sister.”

Watch our full interview with Dana Canedy and Denzel Washington in the video above. A Journal for Jordan will be in theaters Christmas Day.

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