"Sometimes people come to a place and don't expect to get the message," Combs said. "This generation, they come for entertainment ... then they realize, 'oh man, this movie is really touching. It's making me really appreciate my family."'
Combs has acted before. He had a small but key role in the 2001 movie "Monster's Ball" and his Broadway run in "Raisin" earned him respectable reviews and won over audiences.
Yet Combs admitted to a case of nerves before his debut at Sundance, the top U.S. festival for independent film that has a history of launching TV movies like "Raisin" with a social conscience.
Last year, the AIDS-related HBO film "Life Support," starring Queen Latifah, opened here.
Combs said his stage experience helped train him for the film co-starring Phylicia Rashad and Audra McDonald, who also starred in the 2004 stage version and earned Broadway's top honors, Tony awards, for their work.