ALLEN PARK, Mich. — Growing up in Los Angeles, where actors and actresses are pretty much everywhere, Brad Kaaya never realized how relevant his mom’s small role in a big movie had become.
Then Kaaya said bye to his mom and left Los Angeles for Florida, where he became the starting quarterback at Miami. And that’s where Angela Means Kaaya’s role as Felisha in the cult classic movie “Friday” became a much larger thing.
We’re going home 🦁 pic.twitter.com/tPlyyPQEHL
— Angela Means Kaaya (@angiemeanskaaya) April 29, 2017
“For me, she basically just made a 15-minute cameo in a movie that happened to be a famous movie, but in Los Angeles, there are a lot of other things going on and there’s a lot of different types of people you see,” Kaaya said. “So, it wasn’t really a big deal until I pretty much left California for Florida.”
The role, which got the most notoriety because of Ice Cube’s iconic line, “Bye, Felisha” in the 1995 film, gave his mom a bit of stardom. Kaaya is way too young to remember the role because the movie was released on April 26, 1995 — almost five months before he was born, and 21 years and three days before he was drafted into the NFL by the Detroit Lions.
Kaaya said he’s seen Friday “a couple times, you know,” but it’s not one he’s watched over and over again.
To people in their late 20s to early 40s, the movie Friday has much more resonance than it does with Kaaya’s age group. In part because he grew up in Los Angeles and in part because of the 21-year-old’s age, he saw his mom more as a team mom and a vegan chef than an actress with a strong movie part.
“It’s just really been about football. I’ve never really seen her in that kind of light,” Kaaya said. “She was more so my team mom growing up.”
Felisha was Means Kaaya’s most famous role, with her other acting credits including “Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper,” “In Living Color,” “House Party 3,” “The Cherokee Kid” and “Cousin Skeeter.”
Her roots are based in Michigan, so while Kaaya has never been to Ford Field, he’s been to Michigan a lot. Means Kaaya was born in Milan, Michigan, and with a lot of her side of the family still in the state, Kaaya often visited. The first time he’ll be at a Lions game, though, will be this summer when he’s actually in uniform for the club.
“I used to, you name it, I used to spend Christmases there, there in the summer,” Kaaya said. “I used to go to the University of Michigan camp every year, sixth grade through my junior year in high school. I used to be there all the time, whether it was Milan or Belleville or Detroit, spent a whole lot of time there just visiting family and working out for U-M.”
And now he’ll be back again, this time as a player trying to become a NFL quarterback — and someone who could end up even more iconic than his mom’s role in the hit movie 21 years ago.