Actor Wendell Pierce and the cast of Clemency were the talk of the town during Sundance Film Festival weekend.

In addition to Pierce, the film stars Alfre Woodard and examines the intricacies of the death penalty while telling the story of a prison warden who becomes increasingly conflicted as she prepares to oversee her 12th death row execution. Pierce stopped by to chat with ESSENCE while we were on location for the Festival inside the Macro Lodge and after speaking about why it’s important for audiences to see the film, he also opened up about the initiative he’s leading to rebuild 125 homes in New Orleans’ Pontchartrain Park neighborhood where he grew up.

Rich in Black history, the beloved neighborhood became the first where African Americans could purchase houses in segregated New Orleans post WWII. After the neighborhood was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Pierce created the Pontchartrain Park Community Development Corp, which has rebuilt a total of 40 homes in the area to date.

Check out the video above to hear what he had to say in full and be sure to head back over to for more of our Sundance Film Festival coverage.



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