Just in time for the long winter months comes Brown Sugar, Bounce TV’s new subscription-based streaming service for 1970s Blaxploitation films.
Described as “Netflix, only Blacker” by spokeswoman Pam Grier, Brown Sugar is home to hundreds of unedited and commercial-free cult classics, such as Foxy Brown, Uptown Saturday Night, Shaft, The Original Gangstas, Super Fly, Cooley High, Cotton Comes to Harlem and many more.
Launched on Nov. 17, the streaming service is available for mobile phones and tablets in the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store. The first month is free for subscribers and $3.99/month afterward.
We chatted with Grier, the quintessential queen of the genre, to learn more about what’s cooking with Brown Sugar. Can you dig it?
EBONY: Why do you think Brown Sugar is needed in this day and age?
Pam Grier: With Brown Sugar, you can reminisce about things that were wonderful and re-ignite that fire. It’s a broad scope of history you’re bringing into your home, just like EBONY has been on coffee tables for years. We were breaking ground then. When you see that, you understand it’s historical. It’s a value you can revisit over and over again. That’s what’s important and that’s what everyone’s going to love.
EBONY: A lot of those themes are relevant today, such as women’s empowerment and police brutality. How does it feel to be a pioneer of the women’s movement?
PG: My grandfather was the first feminist in my life. He taught me if a woman can do something, a man will respect her. I was just being myself playing those roles and it ended up being a movement and women were saying “Yes!” Women were owning it, they were saying “I’m damaged, but that’s okay. I’m tired, but that’s okay.” And that’s what women are saying today. We’re going to be alright. There’s strength in numbers.
EBONY: What do you want people to take away from the films they see on Brown Sugar?
PG: The African-American community is not monolithic. It’s liberal and conservative. We didn’t judge — we just wrote the stories of interesting characters and let everyone realize on a psychological level what inspired the characters. It’s a lesson in humanities. I think people will have great conversations about religions, women’s sexuality, gender issues and gay issues. You didn’t see lot of gay characters then, so they can sit and discuss why. It’s going to create a lot of narrative, a lot of dinner table discussion.
EBONY: And what can younger generations learn from those films?
PG: Basically, they’ll see their births and they’ll hear the music that their parents listened to. They’ll listen to Bruno Mars, Frank Ocean and Jay Z and hear that influence, Snoop as well. He had me in some of his videos in honor of the music he loved so much from my films. They’ll see the clothing and the ‘fros — nothing’s really changed. My sisters in the Olympics were so polished representing their countries and I’m so proud of them. They were fierce and I think oh my goodness, I would have loved to have a blue ‘fro. But I love my ‘fro. And a lot of people loved it as well. They’ll go back and see the unity and the arts. You can see the influences in hip-hop, New Jack swing and Afro-techno. It’s global. Our culture is revered and it inspires people all around the globe.
EBONY: Absolutely, we’re everywhere! So where can fans find you next?
PG: We just finished the screenplay of Foxy Brown this past summer, so we’re moving forward on that. And I just finished a movie with Cybill Shepherd; it’s a story about friendship. Last summer, I did a movie with Florence Henderson, the Brady Bunch mom and that’s coming out this fall. As I get older, it’s a time to enjoy life. I want to direct and work with the youngins and the fabulous actors of today. My passion is to tell stories that reflect humanity. It’s amazing to see 45 years in the industry impact the community and have it mean something.
To learn more, visit BrownSugar.com.
A journalist turned nonprofit PR pro, L’Oreal Thompson Payton is also a blogger and freelance writer with a passion for empowering women. When she’s not busy writing, she can usually be found reading, dancing and eating her way through Chicago. Learn more about her at LTintheCity.com or follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @LTintheCity.