The Girl is in Trouble
Columbus Short in "The Girl is in Trouble"

It's been quite a year for Columbus Short. After his highly publicized exit from ABC's "Scandal" amid substance abuse issues and various run-ins with the law, the actor formerly known as Harrison Wright seemed to retreat from the spotlight for a while to focus on his music career, releasing several songs in anticipation of a new album. He's back now promoting indie thriller "The Girl is in Trouble," the feature directorial debut from Julius Onah that spent time touring the film festival circuit before arriving in theaters and on VOD today.  

In it, Short plays an aspiring DJ and regular Joe who gets caught up in a murder mystery involving a troubled girl and a missing drug dealer. He made some time to talk with S&A about the film, his return to acting and producing, and what's next on his slate.

S&A: "The Girl is in Trouble" was made years ago. Tell me about the path to getting it released.

COLUMBUS SHORT: There's a myriad of things that go into why movies don't happen right when you make them. If you make a movie in 2010, sometimes it takes up to a year for post-production and that puts you into 2011, then you have to figure out what your product is and that takes some time.

But I think the marketplace wasn't ready. I feel like viewers are more mature now. I think they're more politically savvy, more financially savvy, even the youth. I think they've maturated and incubated to the perfect place for [the movie] to come out right now, so I'm excited.

The movie has a nonlinear style and makes some other unique stylistic choices for a noir thriller. Is that what attracted you to it?

There were a few things that did, namely [executive producer] Spike Lee. Secondly, Julius Onah, who is a phenomenal young director who's going to push the film industry forward. I was just excited about being a part of something we haven't seen, and then the script. The source material was right. I don't care about budget, whether it was $100 million or $10,000, I would've done the movie because it was great.

"It's like if you're on a ship and you're sailing towards your destination, but the ship sinks. That doesn't mean that you have to sink."

We've followed Julius Onah's work for a while now. How was it working with him as a first-time feature director?

I'd never worked with a director younger than me. I thought I was the young one, so that was interesting. But I was excited because he's so bright, he's hyper bright, he's passionate and creative. You can be ultra creative but not be able to shoot a movie and evoke a certain emotion, but he did it all, embodied all of it and made it work. I'm excited for him because he's going to be working a lot when this movie comes out, trust me.

He's got a few more projects that have been announced – the sci-fi thriller "God Particle," and the adaptation of Marcus Sakey's "Brilliance." Are you collaborating on any of those, or have you made future plans to work together?

We haven't. Everything is timing. I've been from afar a brother proud to see my man doing his thing on a bigger level. I knew Hollywood would catch on and see that they have a gem and I'm excited for his future endeavors because they are going to be big.

You recently starred in TV One's horror trilogy "Fear Files." Is this a full-fledged return to acting for you? Is there anything else upcoming that you can share?

I have so much going on it's kind of obnoxious to talk about. I'm producing some television, I'm producing film, I'm doing my album. I'm finished with my EP, which is coming soon. I was living in Atlanta for like a year working with Blockhouse Ent.

I'm signed to Blockhouse and my management is ATOM Factory. They've managed Marsha Ambrosius, Miguel and John Mayer, so I have a great team as far as the music business is concerned and we're about to strike hard. Everything's kind of been falling into place in God's timing. Humbly I'm believing that it's going to be a big year and I'll be in a position to be a job creator instead of waiting around for a job. I want to provide jobs for people. So it's very important for me to be behind the scenes as well. I could care less about fame at this point. I just want to do good work.

Any details you can share about your upcoming producing projects?

I want to diversify, so I have scripted content and some reality content that's great. From travel, to crazy families, to a show in Ghana which is basically like an "African Idol." The first season's going to be in Ghana, then we're going to South Africa to Kenya to Uganda. So basically, we're making an "African Idol" like "American Idol."

And I'm producing a show at Bounce TV with my brother [Bounce TV president] Ryan Glover along with Russ Parr and Swirl Films. We're producing a show that's basically the Gospel "Empire." It's going to be full of drama and great music. Kim Burrell is executive music producer. So I have a billion things going on, but it's great. I love working to push the industry forward. I love to just be a part of this thing, and we're making it happen.

You've been through a lot professionally and personally in the last year or so. How has that shaped your perspective on your career and what you want to do next?

It's like if you're on a ship and you're sailing towards your destination, but the ship sinks. That doesn't mean that you have to sink. Just because the ship sinks doesn't mean you have to sink. You just figure it out until a raft comes along, and God will send you a raft. Or He'll send you another boat to get you to your destination. So it's been a year, it's been a journey. I won't complain about the journey. I'm not going to be upset about the journey; it's been only that, a journey. And I'm here, so I'm good.

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"The Girl is in Trouble" is available in select theaters and on VOD today, Friday April 3.