Growing up in Delray, located on the river’s edge in Southwest Detroit, Daron Colbert, 23, could not have imagined his life taking him on the journey he has been on. With the success of his recent acting debut in the short film Daron, Daron Colbert, which will be featured in the upcoming Freep Film Festival this weekend, Colbert is ready for stardom.
“I’ve always been the type of person that enjoyed being funny and entertaining for people. But after I did the first short film (Wait ’til the Wolves Make Nice), everybody told me I was a natural and looked good on camera. So I felt like I had the potential to do it. So now I’m motivated to become a bigger actor and take on big screens,” Colbert says.
Daron, Daron, Colbert is directed by Detroit-based film director Kevin Steen. He too could not have imagined this journey to take him on this exhilarating ride. Walking and casually filming the neighborhood, Colbert recalls Steen filming a cat; Steen and Colbert meet for the first time. According to Steen, he knew Colbert was a natural straight away.
“Daron was a real character, an actor, living there (Delray neighborhood) and having way more experience than we could have created within a fictional story. I was drawn to the location. It seemed like an interesting story, especially with what’s been happening around the Chrysler plant and the air pollution. This is a very Detroit story, something Detroiters are continuously dealing with,” Steen says.
This film is a Detroit story through and through, for sure. However, it was world premiered at Switzerland’s prestigious Locarno International Film Festival, where Brad Pitt’s film Bullet Train opened in August of 2022. The film also won the Best Experimental Film Award this year at the Oslo Film Festival.
“That’s what is interesting; the history of Delray is entirely present throughout the film. But the narrative shifts to Daron’s point of view of his experience and highlights his life there. It was an area I wanted to highlight because of Zug Island, the history of pollution, and how it has displaced people,” Steen says.
Colbert’s recent notoriety has come with some tribulations along the way. His mother and father both worked hard to support the family. His father worked for the previous Detroit mayor Dave Bing and his mother worked for Digitron Packaging. Colbert remembers some rough financial times growing up and how the community supported him and his family.
“I have two brothers and two sisters. Three of them are older, and then it’s me, and then I have one little brother. There needed to be more than the 9-5 job to make ends meet. There were a lot of us”, Colbert Says. “We had it a bit rough growing up. We didn’t have much. So the local fire department and hardware store helped care for us. We didn’t have Christmas gifts during Christmas; the firefighters would come down, and whether it was gift cards or gifts, they would celebrate with us.”
Colbert is a firm believer in “Everything happens for a reason.” The first-day Colbert met Steen is the last day Colbert remembers seeing his mother alive before she passed from a drug overdose. “This film may not seem special to anyone else, but to me, it’s something spiritual behind it. God removes people from your life and puts others in your life. It was a sign, and you have to pay attention to the signs. Since I met Kevin, my life has been up since then,” Colbert says.
Colbert says he is excited to take on more roles. But, he is most looking forward to being in the room to meet with the directors, filmmakers, other actors, and actresses at film receptions and afterparties as he continues to elevate to stardom.
This Saturday, April 29, at the Detroit Institute of Arts, showing in the Detroit Film Theatre Daron, Daron Colbert will debut with ‘Shorts Program #1: Creative Types,’ followed by a talk with the directors. For ticket information, visit: freepfilmfestival.com/festival-ticketing/or call 313-222-2072.
Amber Ogden is a freelance writer born and raised in Detroit. She has published work in publications such as Forbes, Chevy in the D, Model D, and Rachel Ray Every Day. She enjoys art and eating her way through the city in her free time.