what we have given birth to by giving definition to, learning how to be both kind and demanding in the teeth of failure as well as in the face of success, and not misnaming either. We must recognize and nurture the creative parts of each other without always understanding what will be created… Mothering.”
AD: That’s a powerful quote! Thanks for sharing it with me. It really speaks to the way that I like to direct. I don’t like to just come in and start working on a scene. On Middle of Nowhere I wanted to spend a lot of time with Emayatzy [Corinealdi], and we became friends before we started shooting, so that our work on the set reflected that understanding. We form relationships with each other as artists before we do the work and make the art. For me it’s more like friending than mothering. Some directors like to go in with a certain aggressive energy and they yell the art into existence. For me I like to have some nuance by having a relationship with people before we work. So it speaks to that quote and that recognition being there. I can see what you are doing in the scene because I know you. I can guide you to a certain place because now I know you.
EBONY: I’m guessing you heard about USA Today’s controversial use of the term “racially themed” in describing Best Man Holiday. Do you think there is any value in defining some Black movies as being racially themed? What are your thoughts?
AD: If the movie is exploring issues about race, then it is race-themed. If it’s Best Man Holiday and everyone is laughing in a mansion, looking beautiful and Morris Chestnut’s got his shirt off and we’re not talking about race except that he’s fine and he’s Black, then I don’t understand how that’s race-themed. Their blunder was lumping anything that has Black faces into this [category] of race-themed, which only reveals the feeling in dominant culture that their culture is the way and everything else is other. So a romantic comedy with Black people is called “race-themed,” but a romantic comedy with White people is just called a romantic comedy. It’s so much a part of what we deal with out here in this industry that that’s really the least of it. It just shows their cluelessness and how it’s all other for them. I work in a way that that world is other and my world is dominant and I have no desire to try to make them know this. If they want to see Middle of Nowhere then they should see it just as I go to see their stuff. But it’s not like I’m knocking my head against the wall and I’m very angry that they don’t get it. And that’s the place where I am right now. I just do my best and if they get it, they do and if they don’t, they don’t.