Three years ago, when the coronavirus pandemic put the world on pause, Chlöe Bailey wanted to level up with a dynamic performance that could showcase both her love of singing and faith-based roots.
The member of Grammy-nominated sibling duo Chlöe x Halle got that chance by landing her first starring role in Praise This, a lighthearted musical dramedy executive produced by Will Packer now streaming on Peacock TV about an aspiring yet troubled singer-songwriter who relocates from Los Angeles to Atlanta and finds joy through youth choir praise team competitions.
“This was really exciting to bring my knowledge of the music business and also the feeling of wanting to be something more and fighting for something so bad, and it was all of that put into one,” Bailey said.
“When I was first sent the script to audition, I fell in love. I thought it was so funny and clever. I was so happy that it had my love of God mixed with music plus acting, so it was really cool bringing it to life.”
Praise This also stars Tristan “Mack” Wilds, Anjelika Washington, Drew “Druski” Desbordes, Birgundi Baker, Cocoa Brown and Quavo. Directed and co-written by Tina Gordon, gospel artists Koryn Hawthorne, Charles Jenkins and Jekayln Carr also make cameo appearances in the film.
Bailey worked closely with executive music producer Harvey Mason, Jr. to reimagine popular songs with spiritual themes for Praise This. The “Have Mercy” performer credits learning her tone from regularly performing with her musical family in church since childhood.
Hoping to release a gospel album in the near future, the grown-ish co-star wanted to both tighten her vocals and make her inspirational supporting cast proud.
“I don’t want to do a movie about praising and not doing the music justice, so I really felt like I had to bring it because I was singing with incredible acts who are wonderful in the gospel industry,” Bailey said.
“I’m always trying to improve my skills whether it’s as a human being, musician or actress. It was really great being able to push myself and my vocal limits.”
The cast immediately took notice of Bailey’s infectious work ethic. Quavo, who portrays a popular rapper and Bailey’s on-screen muse, begged Packer for four years to cast him in a film.
Sharing most of his scenes with Bailey helped the former Migos member work off being intimidated by keeping up with the blossoming multi-hyphen entertainer. “I was nervous because I wanted to make sure I was mastering my craft, but at the same time, I knew this was a big moment, so I wanted to put my sauce on it,” Quavo said.
“Y’all normally see me with chains, grills and glasses, but I wanted to peel back the layers and show the other, more vulnerable side of me. I think we got it, and I’m proud of myself.”
Praise This was shot throughout Atlanta in popular spots like Trap Music Museum, New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, The Painted Duck, and even Grammy-winning producer Dallas Austin’s Jetsons-esque mansion. The set of Praise This felt more like a homecoming, especially for Bailey and Quavo.
“It was amazing and definitely nostalgic,” Bailey said. “It was different because Atlanta has changed a lot as well, and it’s progressing so much, but I was happy there are still those landmarks and my favorite restaurants and places that I loved to visit as a little girl.”
“It felt good,” Quavo added. “We made sure everybody was comfortable and enjoyed being here. It didn’t even feel like work; it felt like we just came to play and party everyday.”
Bailey was also working on her debut solo album, In Pieces, during the three years she was preparing for Praise This. The Parkwood Entertainment recording artist became a regular trending topic criticized for her more wardrobe, first-week album sales, collaborations with artists like Chris Brown and most recently her steamy opening scene of Prime Video’s Swarm with Snowfall lead actor Damson Idris.
Focusing on Praise This, In Pieces, and rehearsing for her upcoming headlining In Pieces Tour helped her look past the trolls coming for her online. She wants listeners to notice those Sunday morning harmonies spanning the entire project specifically.
“When you listen to the lyrics and peel back the layers, you can hear my heartbeat and see who Chlöe is,” she said. “I use music as my therapy to heal me, and it’s healing today. Within these three years, I went through so much emotional and mental growth and hardships. It was a very, very rough time in my life where I was still figuring out who Chlöe was, and listening to the lyrics always struck a chord.”
“I stay strong by just knowing God made me this way, and I’m perfectly made in his image,” Bailey continues. “People on Earth can’t judge me. If we were to put a magnifying glass on their life, I wonder what trending topics would come from them.”
Bailey, who turns 25 this July, was just cast in the film adaptation of Girl from the North Country. Working towards becoming an EGOT and a better human being, landing that breakout role in Praise This has fueled Bailey to continue to evolve despite her naysayers and personal bouts with self-esteem.
“I want to be more at peace and truly master the art of self-love and not have it be up and down as it is,” Bailey said. “People are seeing different sides of me, and I’m excited to not stick to just one thing. I have to stay grounded with a lot of prayer and live in the moment.”