When Detroit born actor J. Mallory McCree met his love actress Angela Lewis, they had no idea how much love they would have in common. They literally had stars in their eyes and with two such creative spirits planning to become one, you know that the engagement shoot was going to be too. Read on as they tell their story.
How we met?
Our story is quite unique. One that shows the true meaning of fate, kismet, and serendipity. What makes our story so fantastic is once we began to date and learn more about each other, we discovered not only were we both from Detroit, but our birthdays are four days apart (not in years); we were born in the same hospital; grew up in the same area of Detroit; went to the same high school; had the same curriculum; both went to conservatories to study acting; mothers are both Deltas; and the list goes on. The crazy thing is neither of us knew each other until New York. This is how it happened.
Jamal's side of the story:
The first time we actually met was in 2008 at my opening night of, "Zooman and the Sign", Off-Broadway at the Signature Theatre. (By this point I should have known something was up because she too was in the Off-Broadway play, "Inked Baby", across the street at Playwright's Horizons the same time I was in my show). Maybe two years pass and our mentor from Detroit who holds an annual dinner in NYC, was in town. There I met Angela for the second time and it was just as quick as the first. About a week later I had some extra time in the city and decided to visit the Drama Book Shop. As I enter, I immediately notice this beauty of a woman standing at the checkout counter. The exact words in my mind were, "Damn, this girl is fine!!!".
As I realize its Angela, whom I didn't quite know that well, an entire conversation ensued in my head. More like a conundrum. "Should I say hello?" "No, she won't remember me." "What do you mean, you just saw her the other day. Stop being a punk." "What if it gets awkward?" "SHUT UP AND JUST DO IT!!!". So I decided to approach and say hello, and as I introduce myself, Angie says, "I know who you are!" Whew! We talk for a bit, and she proceeds to the Shakespeare section. I follow. By now the conversation has ended, but I wanted to remain close. So I grab a random book and sit, pretending to read. I glance behind me to see if she is still there. She is. I flip through some pages. I glance again. She's gone 🙁
A week later I am at an audition and the casting director, last minute, asks me to read for a completely different play. I do so and get called back. At the call back we are to read with a partner. I read with the first partner, and am asked to stay to read with the next woman. In walks Angie. Maybe a month after that, I had been cast in the play, Milk Like Sugar (a different play than the one above). Having been a part of the play's process since its conception and having workshopped it many times, I'd read with many actresses in the various roles, including the role of Annie, the lead character, and coincidentally, my "love interest". Before heading to La Jolla to mount the production, we have a reading with the chosen cast. As I approach the theater, I see Angela. We head upstairs. We all sit around the table. We all introduce ourselves and our characters. Angela Lewis is "Annie".
The way in which this woman kept popping up in my life was a sure sign from the heavens above. I just followed suit. Angela is without a doubt my dream woman! The journey begins...
Angela's side of the story:
I was in La Jolla, CA. doing a play called Milk Like Sugar. I had the lead role, and it was a huge role. My character never left the stage! So, one day, pretty early on, I'm in rehearsal with the director and Jamal, and we're working on our characters' first scene. We worked it this way. We worked it that way. We worked that scene every which way. We just couldn't figure it out. Our time was up, so Jamal packed his things and left for the day. While the director and I waited for the girls to arrive, we began to debrief. We tossed some ideas back and forth but what I remember most is that I couldn't ignore how romantic Malik (Jamal's character) had set everything up. The director was saying that Annie (my character) was too young and naive to know anything about that. She doesn't know what "romantic" is. And I said, "Well, she may not know the word, but she Must know the feeling! Look at the given circumstances. We're at the top of a hill, with a sky so clear and close it's like we can touch the stars! And there's a blanket, and a boy with these big beautiful almond eyes! She may not have the word for it, but I guarantee you, she Knows this is romantic! "We kind of chuckled, and I shifted around a bit to find Jamal standing there by the door, grinning from ear to ear! I was so embarrassed. He totally wasn't supposed to hear that.
The very next day I woke up to a cramp in my neck so huge I couldn't turn my head. I sent an email out to the cast asking if anyone had any massage skills. Adrienne (my bridesmaid) said she had some sports therapy experience, so I went to her apt. Man, she started loosening that knot and I started boohoo crying!! I was a hot mess. I hadn't realized how scared of this challenge I really was. I mean I was stressed the bleep out!! Later that day, at the end of rehearsal, as I was packing up to leave, on the top of my bag was a box of organic stress relief tea from "Almond Eyes J". (Breath) It was right then, right there, so solid I could literally pick it up and hold it, drink it down if ever I needed a reminder. It was in that very moment - The Journey Begins.
July 14, 2013. Angela's Birthday. Surprise day trip to Cape May, NJ.
For Angela's birthday I told her I was taking her on a surprise day trip. Wanting everything to be impeccable, the night before I went to pick up my friends 2012 Convertible BMW. Once I got home I asked Ange to come down and help me find a parking spot. As she arrives, she is shocked as all hell! I say, "Happy Birthday, we are riding in style!" That was surprise number 1. 6am, we head out. After an amazing drive we arrive to Cape May, and pull up to the Akwabba House. The reason this is special is because the previous summer, Ange kept talking about wanting to come here. I wasn't familiar with the place and wasn't that enthused because it was in Jersey. Boy was I wrong! The summer ended up getting away from us and we hadn't mentioned it for a year. This was surprise number 2! At this point she thinks this is her birthday gift and she is uber satisfied!! We spend the day enjoying Cape May, walking around, shopping, relaxing on the beach. Then I tell her I have reservations at the best restaurant in Cape May. Only thing is like many restaurants there, we have to bring our own spirits. So we purchase our favorite champagne, Veuve Clicquot, and headed to the restaurant. Here's where it gets interesting: As we eat, I ask Angela what she wanted most in her new year.
She hesitated... began to think and just as she was about to say it, her phone rang. "Whew", she says. "Saved by the phone". After her grandfather wishes her a happy birthday, she gets off and I ask what do you want. She blushingly says, "I would like to get engaged...no pressure!" So now I have to play it down and with a crazy expression, I say, " Ummmm.... we'll see about that." SMH! She felt a little bad so I said, "I have a gift for you. It's a video. You can watch it now or later". She says now. The video was the grandest part of this whole experience. For the actual proposal I comprised a video that included happy birthday messages from her family and friends from all across the country and intertwined it with a fairytale of our love story. Throughout the fairytale I have been referring to her as the Princess. As our favorite couple's song, "Overjoyed", by Stevie Wonder is playing, tableau's of poetry are coming up, the most important of which says, "It is now time I step up and become your King...I humbly ask for your hand as my Queen...without further adieu... I present the ring!" Right on cue, I was on my knee. As you can imagine she was crying hysterically and eventually said, YES!
Engagement Photography by Alan Tumusiime
Stay tuned for their wedding feature in our Fall issue. In the meantime take a peek at their engagement video.