Netflix’s Concrete Cowboy tells the unheard story of African-American cowboys and their urban horse-riding culture in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. With raving reviews, the audience want to know the first-time actor behind Paris, a cowboy bound to his wheelchair.
When we think of cowboys, we think of white, all-American men in the Old West. Director Ricky Staub has used this opportunity to expose the life of African-American cowboys in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Starring none other than Idris Elba, the storyline is based on Greg Neri’s novel Ghetto Cowboy. It revolves around the Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club, a non-profit organisation devoted to preserving urban horsemanship in Philadelphia.
The film would not be complete without featuring a rider from the Fletcher Street Club, so who is real deal?
Who plays Concrete Cowboy’s Paris?
Primary filmed in stables near Fletcher Street in North Philadelphia, the film ensured that they were as realistic and representative as possible by featuring several natives.
Jamil Prattis makes his on-screen debut as Paris, a wheelchair bound cowboy who assists Cole, the new teen cowboy in town.
Now in his early 30s, Jamil became involved with the horses he was 12 years old, after he saw a group of urban cowboys riding through the streets of North Philadelphia.
It seems like he has dedicated his life to Fletcher Street Stables – along with his own horse, he also tends to other owners’ horses to pay for his stable.
Beginning his day at 6:30am, he cleans the stalls and feeds and grooms the horses.
He says, “Horseback riding is something different. It’s not, ‘Oh look we gonna go play basketball.’ No, I’m waking up in the morning and gonna go ride a horse.”
A photo series by The Atlantic reveals that Jamil even has a huge tattoo in tribute to his home, reading ‘North Philly’ across his forearms.
Paris speaks of Jamil’s real-life experience of losing his brother, which the director mentioned was “really beautiful to watch.”
Other Fletcher Street cowboys
Jamil was not the only advisor on set.
Cowgirl Ivannah Mercedes played the role of Esha, Cole’s love interest.
In an interview with TIME, she recalls her start during childhood:
“Esha herself is my story. This was the only movie I’ve ever seen that focuses on Black cowgirls and cowboys. It means the world to me to be able to have my debut as an actress and also be telling a story that is so close to my heart.”
Albert C. Lynch Jr acts as Al and Michael Upshur is Miz.
Concrete Cowboy is now available to stream on Netflix.