Often in biopics, women, be it mothers or love interest, get downplayed. They are background characters, similar to the women we see half naked and lounging in the movie. However, All Eyez On Me doesn’t repeat the pattern. Gurira as Afenia Shakur nearly dominates Shipp Jr. in the movie. Yet, through that, you see Afeni’s influence on Tupac. How this strong, educated, verbal Black woman gave birth and raised a man who is clearly a product of her.

Yet, as strong, educated, and communicative as she was, there are flaws. Flaws of which aren’t fully fleshed out, but it doesn’t take away from the character. For even when high Gurira doesn’t lose this intensity which demands that you, like Tupac, look her in the eyes. And through those flaws, we are reminded that this woman isn’t being painted to be ideal or perfect. She, like her son, fell prey to vices and other things which led her to stray from her path. But, with time and allowing herself to be helped, she got back on the straight and narrow.

With that said, I’d be remiss to not mention Graham as Jada. Mostly because she forces you to see a different side of Pac. A side that likes women who can challenge him and love him. Since, with all the half naked women we see, it makes it easy to write off Pac as a womanizer. Yet between Jada and Kadida Jones (Annie Ilonzeh), you see something more.

To go a bit further, but just focusing on Jada, you can see a truly deep relationship [note]In the link, you can hear Jada talk about Pac and I think Graham exhibited that well. [/note] [note]In this link you can read what did and did not happen per Jada Pinkett-Smith.[/note]. Not like an “Oh she is like a sister or cousin” type of relationship. It truly seemed like the kind which, if they were able to make more time for each other, could have saved Pac. Which Graham, to my surprise, played up well.

For Jada’s relationship with Tupac is not her claim to fame. When you hear the name “Jada Pinkett-Smith” Tupac has become almost a footnote. So Graham is forced to fill in the blanks. She has to help you understand why this woman, of the many Pac knew, was special. And she truly nails. She nails it to the point that it forces you to take notice of Graham. It makes you take her more seriously than perhaps has been warranted in the past. For while she doesn’t possess a huge role in the film, her presence is felt. She makes Jada into a woman you can tell had the influence who could have changed history.

A Concise Rise & Fall