The Radcliff native turned his memoir into a major film | Local News
A Radcliff native sees her life unfold on the big screen in a big movie coming out this Christmas.
Directed by Denzel Washington and starring Michael B. Jordan and Chante Adams, the film brings Dana Canedy’s memoir “A Journal for Jordan” to life on the big screen.
“First and foremost, I feel blessed and humbled by this experience,” said Canedy, a graduate of North Hardin High School and the University of Kentucky. “I hope the universal themes of the book will resonate with audiences in terms of the film.”
The book the film is based on is a combination of writings by Canedy, who at the time was an editor at The New York Times, and her fiancé, 1st Sgt. Charles Monroe King, killed in action in 2006 during the Iraq War.
When King received his orders, Canedy was approaching 40. The couple decided to have a child together before King’s deployment.
“I gave (King) a newspaper to take with him,” Canedy said. “He became obsessed with it. He filled it with 200 pages of life lessons for our son.
Canedy said when their son, Jordan, was born, King went home for the birth. After sending the diary home before he left, King completed the diary in New York after Jordan was born before returning to the war.
“I didn’t know Charles could write like that,” she said of reading the diary. “He sent him back from Iraq when one of his young soldiers was killed and he was very shaken by it. He sent him home and said it was about 75 to 80 per cent done, but I want to send it to you in case something happens to me.
When King was killed, he had just one month left of his deployment, Canedy said.
“I collapsed on the floor screaming when I found out he was dead,” she said. “I had a new baby, I hadn’t returned to work (from maternity leave) until the New York Times where I was a journalist for two weeks. My whole world just crumbled. I literally had to find a reason to get off the ground. My baby was the cause.
The book was a way for Canedy to do something positive with her grief, she said.
“I wanted to create a way for the world to know about this amazing man and the gift he left us,” she said. “I always say when you have adversity and tragedy in life it’s not an easy thing to do, God knows if you can you have to channel it into something positive and that’s what I tried to do.”
Calling the diary a treasured and cherished gift from King to Jordan, Canedy compiled the entries and wrote some of her own for their son to detail the life and love the couple shared. The end product became a New York Times Bestseller.
“These are defining writings for (Jordan),” Canedy said. “The book and diary are his parents speaking directly to him and that is deeply meaningful. Whether it’s how to choose a wife – his father wrote to him about it – or me telling (Jordan) how (Charles) and I are fell in love or his dad writing about it in his own words, he really learns how our relationship went.”
The book also includes some of King’s favorite Bible verses and covers topics such as racial discrimination and respect for all. King even developed an exercise program for Jordan in the newspaper, Canedy said.
“His dad found a way to communicate with him,” she said. “He told her about his childhood, his first girlfriend. I said to Jordan, ‘Your father speaks to you in a way that many living fathers don’t speak to their own children.’ It’s very meaningful for Jordan.
Although written from the perspective of a military family when the country is at war, the book’s themes speak a universal language, Canedy said.
“So I used many journal entries to incorporate into the memoirs, knowing that our story was specific to us but also universal,” she said. “I don’t speak for other military families, but universal in the sense that it gave people a real, up-close look at what it’s like to be a military family during a war.”
Canedy said other themes such as the power of resilience, patriotism, love and fatherhood also struck a chord with audiences.
“I wanted to give people a taste of what it’s like to be a military family in wartime and also about fatherhood,” she said. “My Charles was a man who managed to find a way to let our son and me know how much he loved us even after he died.”
Canedy worked closely with Washington, whom she calls one of her best friends, to convey those same themes in the film.
“If we do this, you’re going to do it right,” she recalled telling Washington when he first learned about the project 13 years ago. “We’ve stayed in touch over the years and he’s literally one of my best friends now. I love him to death. … Were very close. I talk to him several times a week. I’ve been deeply involved in the film.
Canedy said she and Jordan had to go on set for a bit and watch the filming.
“It was fun,” she said. “I’ve never done anything like this before. I walked on set and saw a director’s chair with my name on it and I was like, ‘Oh, my God.’ I went to Hollywood.’ ”
Although it’s a movie about King, Jordan, and her, Canedy said the book and therefore the movie is more.
“It’s a surreal experience, but it was also a blessing because I know it’s about us, but Denzel and I have talked about it a lot that we’re not doing it for us,” he said. she declared. “It’s about us, it’s also about our soldiers. It’s about fatherhood. It’s about resilience, about bouncing back from tragedy. I am the least of it all. I didn’t need to be public, really not, but God gave me a talent for writing, storytelling and communication.
Washington, whom Jordan calls Uncle D, hosted a private screening of the film in mid-October for Canedy and Jordan, who is now 15.
“It’s beautiful. It’s spectacular. It’s so accurate because they used most of the book,” Canedy said of the first time he saw the movie. scared that there are things I want to change or have to fight for, and that really didn’t happen.”
Canedy said part of the reason the film was so accurate was that the cast was now like family to her.
“Michael B. Jordan and Chante Adams, who played (King and Canedy), I got to know them really well,” she said. “Chante is my little sister for life and Michael B. is so gracious to Jordan and spent a lot of time with him. Everyone came to this project leaving their egos in check. We all got there by really caring about each other and it showed in the movie.
Now Canedy, who is an editor for Simon and Schuster in New York, is embarking on the film’s latest push with upcoming appearances on talk shows and other press events. The book “A Journal for Jordan: A Story of Love and Honor” also has an updated cover with a scene from the movie.
A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Canedy said her upbringing at Radcliff and then the University of Kentucky gave her the foundation she needed to pursue her passion, which led to her success.
“The family and friends I have there, the teachers I had at North Hardin, the teachers I had in the UK, the work placements I did prepared me for the trip I’ve been on,” she said. “I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about my success. I am just a working mother who was blessed to be able to use the talent God gave me to do the job I always wanted to do.
Canedy said finding her passion, setting goals by seeking advice from on-the-job mentors and taking “one step at a time and being ready for triumphs and setbacks” helped shape her into who she is today. today.
“I was not a straight student. I was not a straight student in high school,” she said. “You have to have a passion and dedicate yourself to learning the basics of your job. If I can do it, anyone can do it.
The movie “A Journal for Jordan” is set to be released nationwide on Christmas Day.