In Sorry to Bother You, Boots Riley’s directorial debut movieLakeith Stanfield plays Cassius “Cash” Green, a  Black man down on his luck who eventually lands a job as a telemarketer and adopts the use of a “White voice” to climb the corporate ladder.

Riley, who has worked as a telemarketer, said the actors put on performances of their lives and his film is a reflection of that.

“I think what the movie is talking about is the performance of Whiteness as opposed to … this style that’s Blackness,” Riley told EBONY. “In reality, it’s a performance that we’re all doing.”

The director added that the “White” voice is equated with a comfortable life, and Black people are often blamed for the way they speak because there is a belief that it is the reason why so many live in poverty.

“There really isn’t’ a White voice; there’s this idea that even White folks have of what they’re supposed to sound like. It’s connected to this idea that everything is OK and that things aren’t a struggle,” he continued. “That’s exactly counterposed to racist Black tropes that their culture is lacking, and that causes them to make mistakes that [lead to] poverty. In reality, there’s an economic system that necessitates poverty.”

Check out Riley’s full interview with EBONY above.

Sorry to Bother You is in theaters now.