Is The Strays Based on a True Story? Real-life Events Explained

Based on a true story 1

Netflix’s latest thriller drama, The Strays, has captured the attention of viewers with its gripping plot and foreboding tone. The movie follows Neve, a suburbanite with a seemingly idyllic life, whose world is turned upside down by the sudden appearance of a mysterious man and woman. As she struggles to convince her loved ones of the danger she senses, Neve’s past begins to catch up with her. But is The Strays based on a true story? Let’s see what real-life events it could be based on.

The Strays is not based on a true story. The movie script is a product of the producer’s creativity. However, there is a real-life story that served as an outline and concept for the movie. It is a story about a biracial woman who came from a poor background, but when she inherited money, she started acting and talking differently. The movie’s writer-director Nathaniel Martello-White heard the story from his mother and decided to use the motives from that story for a movie.

This movie is centered around themes that are always trending and open to various interpretations, such as themes of class, discrimination, and internalized racism, so it is no wonder that it has sparked questions among audiences about its origins. Let’s explore the origins of this captivating drama in a bit more detailed manner.

Is The Strays based on a true story, and what is it about?

The Strays

The Strays is a new thriller drama movie written and directed by Nathaniel Martello-White. The movie is starring Ashley Madekwe as Neve, a black suburban woman who lives a seemingly harmonious life with her family. But, when she starts getting unusual visits from a man and woman, she is getting disturbed. However, her family and friends do not believe she could be in danger.

The Strays is not based on a true story. The movie’s director, Martello-White, developed the storyline and its characters to be as intriguing and divisive as possible. However, he used a real-life story that his mother told him about a woman who decided to completely change her life so much that she even started to talk differently to appear like someone else. But, more about that is further in the article.


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In the movie itself, we get to meet Neve, a lovely family-centered woman who seems to try really hard to fulfill her role in the society she lives in. She tries to pretend and act in a manner that is appropriate and polite but does not seem that enjoys doing that. She has some things in her past that she either ran away from or hid from her family.

When she starts seeing a man and a woman staring at her or showing up in unexpected places where she is, she gets paranoid and scared. The problem is even more serious because no one else seems to notice those people. Her behavior becomes strange and troublesome, so she has to come forward and admit to her family what is in her past that haunts her.

From the movie trailer, it can be concluded that a strange man and woman want to scare Neve, or even worse, but we can only speculate why.

The movie’s director wanted the audience to feel real suspense and thrill through the movie, and he wanted to create a main character who would be controversial and divisive. At the same time, he wanted us to feel the emotions Neve felt and the decisions she had to make, such as abandonment and the problems of internalized racism.

There is a reason he created Neve’s character that way. Apparently, his mother told him a story about a woman she once knew who turned her whole life around. So, she left her old life, remarried, inherited money, and started acting like someone else. All of that, of course, was just a facade.

Real-life events behind The Strays explained

The movie is fictional, and the storyline of it is as well. However, the main character, Neve, was somewhat influenced by a real-life story that Nathaniel Martello-White, a show’s producer, was told by his mother.

It is a story about a biracial woman her mother knew. That woman decided to ‘flee’ from her life and wanted to start anew. So, she got divorced and remarried, only this time, she married a wealthy man. She inherited a lot of money from her new spouse. The couple had two children who looked very fair and almost passed as white. The woman seemed to have fully embraced her new identity, presenting herself as someone else entirely, even speaking with a different accent.


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After his mother told him that story, it made Nathaniel think about it a lot. The questions in his head arose like why would anyone, especially a mother do that? However, he and his mother came to the conclusion that the woman they were talking about must have been suffering a lot in childhood and that traumas scarred her life. So, maybe her leaving her old family and starting a new one while becoming a completely different person, even in her way of speaking and presenting herself, was her way to try to heal herself.

This story stuck with Martello-White, so he wrote it down and decided that it could be a great source for a movie one day.

The Strays is set to premiere on Netflix on Wednesday, February 22, 2023.

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