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Anthony Mackie Reiterates His Sentiments On Black Films: "Our Hustle Game Is Way Behind"

by Cynthia Reid
February 3, 2012 5:36 PM
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Anthony Mackie

In an interview promoting his co-starring appeareance in Man On A Ledge, Anthony Mackie took the time to reiterate, and clarify, with NPR some of his feelings regarding the black film industry and more.

When asked about the "controversy" that was created when he declared that African-Americans in the movie business have not done enough to tell their stories.  He states...

"Well, I think that statement was blown completely out of proportion because of one phrase I used in particular. And that was a bad choice of words by me. But I do think that if you look at some of the pioneers in this business, you know, you know, God rest his soul, Don Cornelius started "Soul Train," you know, with what, $200? If you look at Robert Townsend, he started his career by producing and directing a film on a credit card. If you look at what Bill Cosby was able to do with his career.

If you look at all of these people from the analogs of African-American history in entertainment, they gave us a blueprint on how to make money, and how to make it work. And I feel like, you know, you get out in the L.A. life. You're laying in the sun. You're being invited to parties. You're having a good time. You have girlfriends, boyfriends. You have expensive cars. You forget the idea of hustle. And I think right now, our hustle game is way behind.

I think if you look at what Judd Apatow has done, what Seth Rogen has done, if you look at, you know, what Latino film stars have done with, you know, their five major Latino networks right now. I think we have to work harder towards our own demographic and telling our own stories. I think it's preposterous that we have to look back to George Lucas to tell the story of some of the greatest American - figures in history with the film "Red Tails." You know, I think if we want that story to be told, that's something that we can tell and something that we can do."

When asked where's the Anthony Mackie movie?  Where's the film he's going to make?  His response...

"Yeah. I read that all the time, and I'm asked that question all the time. And, you know, I have projects that I'm working on and things I want to get done. You know, but at the end of the day, this is a business, and I don't want to put myself out there until I'm ready to be put out there. You know, now it's a slow burn. You know, Morgan Freeman didn't pop in this business until he was well over 40. You know, if you look at Sam Jackson, Sam Jackson didn't pop in this business until he was, you know, damn near 40.

So I'm in a position now where I'm allowing myself to grow. I don't want to jump out and then do something that people don't appreciate or don't like, and that I'm a one-hit wonder that you'll never hear from again. You have to allow yourself that aspect of nurturing and growing until you're ready to pop out there on the scene. And that's why I try to diversify my portfolio of roles. So when it's time for me to do that, I can bring a modicum of ideas and cultural references to a role to have people interested and have people want to see more of me. I think that's why Denzel is where he is. I think that's why Will Smith is where he is."

He also spoke of his learning experience while filming Brother To Brother stating...

"Well, doing "Brother to Brother" was kind of magical because living in Harlem at the time, I learned so much about culture and history that I didn't learn in school. I think being an actor, I'm blessed with the opportunity to look at different facets of life in a completely different way. I'm able to be voyeuristic in a very supported, nurtured environment when it comes to different aspects of culture. So I learned so much about myself and really about where I come from. And I think it garnered a certain amount of pride when it comes to, you know, my history and my culture, specifically being from New Orleans and all the great artists that have come before me and put me in the plate, given me the ability to be where I am."

And when asked about the not-so-good reviews for Man On A Ledge, he had this to say...

"You know what, this is a hit-or-miss business. I think every project you do, it's, you know, six one way, half a dozen the next. I actually enjoyed the movie. I feel like we've gotten away from what good movies used to be. I think it's a action/suspense/thriller. And the last time I saw a, quote, unquote, "suspenseful movie," I was so confused by the end of it, I had to idea what was going on."

You can listen to the complete interview HERE.

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  • jingmei | February 5, 2012 9:22 PMReply

    Anthony Mackie is a dude has some depth, layers, or inspiringly smart, indeed.

  • jingmei | February 5, 2012 9:37 PM

    And thanks for the cool audio!

  • Justin D. | February 5, 2012 12:33 PMReply

    He's one of my favorite actors of this generation and I cannot wait to see him land more film roles. Here's hoping he lands a leading one.

  • KeepingITReal | February 4, 2012 8:23 PMReply

    He speaks so well. I love this dude! He is going to be around for a long time in the industry.

  • Troy upsher | February 4, 2012 4:30 PMReply

    I worked with Mackie on Bolden - Mackie is smart and has an acting range well beyond his years. Mackie brings a unique spin to every role he lands - I look forward to seeing his projects - Mackie you can always put together a team - were waiting - Troy

  • LeonRaymond | February 4, 2012 4:20 PMReply

    it's so sad cause take my word for it , I can write my ass off and produce, and trying to get Black folk to work with you is hard as hell to the point where I have had to write Black folk off as the market and community I deal with, my career has jumped 100% since dealing with the Latino cultural and I have many projects moving ahead and i had even put it out there that I would work on any Black persons script or project for free, I would write a screenplay for them for free , just give me writers credit when they get it going and do you think Black folk would take me up on it HELL NO!!! and then the excuse that Black folks give me, "oh that's cause they (Black folk don't know you) that is B.S. oh then it's about a Clique then, all I'm saying is investigate email me call me and find out you will see , but Black folks don't and won't do it , Latino's call me all the time and respond they work with me to get things ahead. I will not put his name out here but a well known actor who is about to work with my good friend who is a writer who is Black told him in a deal meeting "we can work together, but I refuse to work with My people cause they just don't want to rise up and get stuff moving" Now solutions as some one said start with offering opportunities , I do that, but Black folk don't respond they don't want to pay dues they just want to go to the front of the line. or get a "Hook Up" Mackie says this stuff cause he's tired of trying to pull Black folk into a industry that is ready but won't tolerate the "Black Stuff" it 's truly not racism we are far too short sighted to work together to build together. we come into the game half assed and half cocked. I have access. I want to give something back but I see it's a complete waste of time. So I just now wrap myself in the Latino community cause they work together no matter what!!!!!

  • Donella | February 4, 2012 3:42 PMReply

    The good thing is, Mackie has a goal in mind. He's looking at Denzel Washington and Will Smith who are very good targets to aim for. He also mentioned the efforts of Don Cornelius, Robert Townsend, and Bill Cosby. He didn't mention them, but I'm going to add Spike Lee, Tyler Perry, and Chris Rock to the list because they also hustle BIG TIME to complete projects. I feel Mackie sees the industry as a whole, the big picture, and not just the 'what about me and mine' mentality. He may surprise us all in a few years when he produces whatever he's got on the back burner.

  • urbanauteur | February 4, 2012 2:12 PMReply

    Film Appreciation go so far...Words not Deeds.

  • CharacterAnimator | February 4, 2012 1:42 PMReply

    For all of the people here complaining about what Anthony Mackie has said, "WELL, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?" Have you worked in the film industry? Have you written and tried to sell a script? Have you ever gone to multiple acting auditions? Have you sent your demo reel to studios for a job? Have you tried to secure financing for a film? Have you ever created a film? Have you ever acted in anything? Have you studied film or animation? WE as Black people are very ignorant when it comes to the film and TV industry. We see someone on TV or in a film, and automatically believe that they are someone with connections or wealth. The vast majority of African Americans in the entertainment industry are struggling. Most A list Black actors are competing against novice or unknown actors for d-list, made for video films. This is not a slight for any Black actors, but a sad truth of survival in this industry. We as African Americans have to own our own theaters, distribution companies, banks, advertising firms, and retailers for us to get the vast majority of our stories to the public. Even if Mr. hasn't physically done anything on this issue(which he has), it too fortitude to bring this issue to the African American public.

  • Darkan | February 6, 2012 2:15 AM

    @ CharacterAnimator, yes I have and yes I am is the answer to all of the above questions you raised which is why I am able to speak on the subject and make the statement I've made! Unfortunately to most people my viewpoint would not stand or hold credence because I'm not Anthony Mackie.

  • Darkan | February 4, 2012 9:15 AMReply

    It's funny how all these "celebrities" have an opinion to what's wrong but ain't doing a hot damn thing to change anything! Yet in still people parade behind them and agree with him. Smdh.

  • LeonRaymond | February 4, 2012 12:47 AMReply

    I agree with Mackie 100%, I feel I am super talented as a writer, but when I offer my talents for free to the Black culture at large there is no emotion, I even had Black folk in the industry say to me about projects we are trying to mount, "WHAT STARS ARE IN IT" before they will sign on to be a part of a low budget project. So what I did was start doing Latino films cause they under how to work together, I have had Latinos call me up at the crack of dawn to ask me hey man do you need me to bring my sister , she is hair stylist and owns her own shop and she will work for free, another one says , you LeonRaymond, I have a van i can pick up the entire crew just feed me and you got all day. Latinos know how to work together. Black folk refuse to work together to get something moving forward. I have three major projects that are in the serious stage that are Latino themed and I have a Brother who feels the exact same way helping with revises on the script. The reason we don't get ahead is that we don't understand the process of I will work on your project for free and you work on mine. Black folks will not do that unless they become stars overnight or their are stars in the project that they can have scenes with. No dues paying they just want to go from home newbie to Director -Producer etc overnight. I have an incredible wealth of Latino Talent that is well know and have done so much work in this industry contacting me all the time to be a part of any project we do. I say come on down lets do this together. Latino's understand that Black folk are so much into the Big Clique first before they anything gets done. I am so far removed from the Black film scene. I am just about making cinema and anyone who wants to join up is welcome. and each time I do a call out I get 1 to 2 Black folk and who make excuse to need some one to pick them by limo or taxi but the Latino folks just ask me what train do they take what bus do they take and do I need them to pick up other people. I have a film one of my Latino producers is releasing in March and is working on my project also. they already have a distribution deal and put forth a very classy debut of the film in New York that had a Red Carpet. I am so tired of hearing this about why we are not there like Mackie says when I know why. I want some Black folk to cross over if they dare cause we are out to put many films in the pipeline. Latinos work it -the choice is yours!!!

  • BluTopaz | February 4, 2012 1:50 PM

    I have been in your spot and the reverse: signing an all Black crew and on the day of the shoot: all kinds of 'see what had happened wuz' excuses for not showing up.... And on the flip I have been treated like crap while working hard as an unpaid PA by underling Black folks who badly wanted to be big willies, while the actual filmmaker and her above the line people were very nice and professional. Too many of us want to be in the spotlight, and not willing to put in the work.

  • Jug | February 3, 2012 9:52 PMReply

    The only "problem" with what Mackie said is he can't qualify it. You name names, you get blacklisted, simple as that. Everything he said is true, Bondgirl is right. Folks are out here going to parties & "hanging out" once they get a little run. Problem is, this business has a short damn memory. It's all about what have you done for me lately. Some people 'think' they know that cuz they read about it on YBF or in a tabloid about somebody falling the hell off, but they reeeeally have no idea about just how venomous & cutthroat this biz is-All Colors Included. SO while these newly minted "stars" (used loosely because cuz you gettin' a gig doth not a Star make) are kicking it, gettin' a lil bit here & there & going to the hot party of the week, they ain't makin' it happen for the long run. There's a reason on IMDB Will Smith's "to do list" of films is as long as train smoke. He gets it. So does DiCaprio, or Tom Cruise. Not everyone can write & direct a movie-much less a good one. So you gotta get smart & hunt for shit, put your name on it & say "When you come up with the money, I'm in". I ain't mad at Sam Worthington, first thing he did was create a prod company & started buying properties to comic books. Someone will adapt it into a screenplay so he can star in it. Strike while that irons hot & long after. Mold that shit into a sword. But a lot of cats are like "OH SHIT, I MADE A MOVIE..TIME TO PIMP THIS SHIT!! So when Mackie speaks, he's tellin' behind the scenes stuff. And then everybody says "He's hatin'" or "where is you prod deal". But I thought we all wanted "The real deal", someone to "Tell the truth"? Guess we just wanted the truth we wanted to hear. The real question is "Where are the circles of Black power putting out stuff that doesn't pander to the lowest common denominator?" THAT is the better question, bcuz what Mackie's talking about is WEALTH-creative, economic & most importantly INFLUENTIAL Wealth. There are no Black Joel Silvers, Harvey Weinsteins or Brian Grazers all doing business with one another wholesale. They're starting to trickle in in the forms of Will Smith & Denzel here & there. Oprah pops her head up every now & again. But the list is just that thin. Remember when Magic was tryin' to produce films, BROWN SUGAR & such? A lot of people in Hollywood are RICH, they have money & content, but as a whole we have no WEALTH-not in the film world. Music-Yes. Sports-Well, it's debatable. But in Film & TV...HELL NAW! And THAT is what he's referring to. The collective voice of power in Black circles is putting out stuff that many of us shake our head at, but many MORE are buying it. And that's why it gets made. And then the opposing view is, "Well you have to start somewhere". Bullshit. Once you start there, it's human nature to stay there, especially in business. "Don't fix it if it ain't broke". *sigh* I wish some people would get the hell offa WHAT Anthony said & really listen to what it MEANS. ---RANT OVER--- LOL

  • Laura | February 3, 2012 11:22 PM

    I agree with your rant. I've been doing indie film work for close to 2 years. I find that 1)that the business of film making is not for the faint of heart. 2)One has to understand that there is a film business ecology that one has to be a part of to make isht happened and have a career. 3) Lot of people working in indie film are trifling, but when Black are trifling, it's much worse because there are so few of us in the business and the ratio from truly serious and the truly trifling is too low (i.e. 1:2). 4)We don't understand or bother to learn about the business/ecology or bigger picture of film making and because of that we sabotage ourselves. The early obstacles we put there ourselves. I can tell you that professionalism in struggling white lead/dominated indie film shoots is very different than those of Black indie film shoots, unfortunately. I hope in due time we can get it together. The technology and the emerging business models are within our reach. I hope we can get it together.

  • Akelah | February 3, 2012 10:04 PM

    I hear you loud and clear Jug. Very good rant :)

  • Akim | February 3, 2012 9:05 PMReply

    He sure does say ''you know'' a lot! Geez. lol

  • Cynthia | February 3, 2012 9:56 PM

    @Akim...This is a transcript of an audio interview. Most people, including myself, say "you know" often in conversation. It's a bad habit, you know, that a lot of us have. :-)

  • MASTER BLASTER | February 3, 2012 7:36 PMReply

    c'mon, anthony. you can't call everyone out for not being on their hustle and then talking about how you're waiting for the right's a slow burn...etc. obviously you see that there's a problem...that there's a void. how bout we stop talking about holes and fill them!

  • Laura | February 5, 2012 12:15 PM

    That's the problem Master Blaster. You think that Mackie owes you something because he's Black and you want him do stuff for you because you think he is obligated. Have you paid your dues? Is your craft tight? Can you make a good film without a name person? What is your goal as a filmmaker? Like Leonraymond and Blutopaz implied in the above posts --what is your work ethic? You are not entitled to Mackie services. You have to earn it A lot of Black people in all areas of life have this entitlement mentality. "I'm Black, I'm struggling and I'm entitled to use your success to further my own agenda even though I don't bring anything of value to your agenda. We fail because of that. I have been doing this for close to two year and I've already picked up paying gigs because I bring value to the table. What do you bring to the table as a film maker that brings value to the person you ask to work for pennies on the dollar. That's the question you need to ask. Did you bring a story to people like Mackie that is well written and have a lead part. Is it better than the script he's getting. Do you bring in solid production team- people who are well verse in the respective craft. What did you bring to him that add value to actors like him. If you can't fathom what I am stating than you will always get name people slamming the door in your face. This is because you don't understand basic human nature. People don't want to be used and taken advantage of.

  • MASTER BLASTER | February 5, 2012 11:42 AM

    i'm well aware of what anthony has done in his career. a lot of these actors will say a lot of things...but try to get in touch with them and see what happens. i guarantee you if you try to get in touch with their agents/managers with anything but a fully-financed project you won't get far.

  • Zeus | February 3, 2012 8:32 PM

    He is, read what Cynthia said below.

  • Duncan Manutz | February 3, 2012 6:43 PMReply

    I completely agree....the state of Black cinema is way behind. Yeah there's also "Hulu Latino"... We don't have shit, bad, we have Bounce TV and VH1 on lock.

  • Mark | February 8, 2012 10:28 AM

    BTW, who owns the Latino networks? They're major corporations owned by bigger companies. Comcast owns NBC, which owns Telemundo.

    The Latino networks are there to serve a large and growing market.

    The African-American market speaks English and happily watches English language networks of all stripes.

  • sandra | February 3, 2012 6:30 PMReply

    He's going to have to start backing his tough talk with an equally tough walk. What makes him so knowledgeable about other people's hustles? He is actually one of the most in-demand young(ish) black actors, yet, where is his production company? He should focus on what HE'S DOING to improve the situation instead of what others ARE NOT DOING. It's getting old.

  • Cynthia | February 3, 2012 6:44 PM

    He's actually been apart of a few, low-paying indie projects @Sandra. He's also working on bringing the Jesse Owens story to film.

  • BONDGIRL | February 3, 2012 6:29 PMReply

    "And I feel like, you know, you get out in the L.A. life. You're laying in the sun. You're being invited to parties. You're having a good time. You have girlfriends, boyfriends. You have expensive cars. You forget the idea of hustle. "<<<------This right here is THE TRUTH. Man, I've been saying that FOREVER. Everybody gets on this site feeling sorry for these actors who go to party after party, instead of keeping their ass in a workshop, taking appointments, or hustling. Once again, Mackie for President!!

  • BONDGIRL | February 3, 2012 8:02 PM

    David: Sorry, but I'd have to disagree with that. I worked in IT before my foray in film, and technology millies and billies are not complacent about their next project, moviestars are. Before I even got focused myself, I'd see the same actors and actresses at the same annual parties sucking up the idol-worship from their fans asking for a photo. Black actors cannot afford to sail on yachts in Miami or premiere hop like white actors do, but most even at C-List level, don't get it. Then they give interviews about how hard it is for a pimp, but everyone who works around them knows the real damn deal...they're not giving 110%.

  • sandra | February 3, 2012 7:36 PM

    @Cynthia Thanks for the clarification. I just get sooooooooooooooo tired of the complaints. I feel like WE ALL KNOW what's wrong. If a black actor in HWD is not actively seeking opportunities for themselves, it's because they don't want to and/or do not have an entrepreneurial spirit. What more can you say about the subject? You got to MOVE ON with a laser focus on what you want. To not know the deal at this point in the game is to be beyond hope.

  • David | February 3, 2012 7:12 PM

    Mackie may have been referring to certain actors in Hollywood, but what he is describing is a universal truth about the complacency, comfort, and self satisfaction that seep in to folks of every tribe once they've deluded themselves into believing they've "made it."

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