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When we talked to David Oyelowo this past September, he was gearing up for the world premiere of his directorial debut film, The Water Man, at the Toronto International Film Festival. It’s safe to say the showing was a success as the movie has since been acquired by RLJE Films and will be making its theater debut tomorrow, May 7, in the U.S.

On the heels of the release, we talked to Oyelowo about his moment as what we called “the male version of Regina King,” given the success he’s experienced taking a step behind the camera for the first time. We also asked him to expound on his previous statement that the Sci-fi fantasy film co-starring Rosario Dawson and Lonnie Chavis is a love letter to mothers.

“When I read this script, I identified with both Gunner and the character I play, Amos,” Oyelowo tells ESSENCE. “As a kid– my mom has since passed away — but a kid who would do anything for their mother, a kid who loved his mom so much and I got so much love and light and nourishment from my mother so I identified with him hugely.”

Acknowledging Oprah, executive producer of the film, whom Oyelowo says is like a mother figure to him as well as his wife, who’s the mother of their four children, along with his own mother, the actor-director, continues, “[The film is] a love letter to mothers because I just really love that this 11-year-old kid decides I am going to risk life and limb to save my mom. And that thought just makes me emotional. What a great thing to be a mother worthy of an 11-year-old having that thought.”

He adds, “I’ve been around women who are worthy of that level of sacrifice. So in many ways, for me, the film is about saying this is how much I love you, this is how much you deserve to be loved, and this is what you represent to me — everything. I would do any and everything for you.”

Check out our full interview with Oyelowo in the video above.

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