Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Producer of 'The Walking Dead' Says There’s No Conspiracy to Kill Off the Black Male Characters Producer of 'The Walking Dead' Says There’s No Conspiracy to Kill Off the Black Male Characters Roger Moore Says Idris Elba as James Bond is "Unrealistic" Because He's Not "English-English" Roger Moore Says Idris Elba as James Bond is "Unrealistic" Because He's Not "English-English" Dr Dre Hopes the N.W.A. Movie Will Correct Notions of the Group's Treatment of Women + Working on Inspired Album, More Dr Dre Hopes the N.W.A. Movie Will Correct Notions of the Group's Treatment of Women + Working on Inspired Album, More TV Casting Directors React to Deadline's "Ethnic Castings" Article (A Fad That Will Eventually Pass?) TV Casting Directors React to Deadline's "Ethnic Castings" Article (A Fad That Will Eventually Pass?) Taraji P. Henson Will Host 'Saturday Night Live' for the First Time in April (How Many Black Women Have Hosted?) Taraji P. Henson Will Host 'Saturday Night Live' for the First Time in April (How Many Black Women Have Hosted?) For White TV Writers Who Have Considered Racism When *Ethnic* Diversity Is Too Much For White TV Writers Who Have Considered Racism When *Ethnic* Diversity Is Too Much 'Key & Peele' "Substitute Teacher" Sketch to be Developed as a Feature Film 'Key & Peele' "Substitute Teacher" Sketch to be Developed as a Feature Film New Documentary Will Trace History of "Black Dandyism" (Trailer) New Documentary Will Trace History of "Black Dandyism" (Trailer) Best Performances By Black Actors/Actresses Ever? (Survey) Best Performances By Black Actors/Actresses Ever? (Survey) Tyler Perry Studios Forms Film, TV & Infrastructure Alliance w/ 4 Other Major Atlanta Studios Tyler Perry Studios Forms Film, TV & Infrastructure Alliance w/ 4 Other Major Atlanta Studios Watch: Kenyan Filmmaker Ng'endo Mukii Tackles 'Globalized' Beauty & African Self-Image in Award-Winning Short Film 'Yellow Fever' Watch: Kenyan Filmmaker Ng'endo Mukii Tackles 'Globalized' Beauty & African Self-Image in Award-Winning Short Film 'Yellow Fever' Apparently, Many of You Aren't Pleased With the "All-New" 'Single Ladies'... What's Going on? Apparently, Many of You Aren't Pleased With the "All-New" 'Single Ladies'... What's Going on? Alfre Woodard and Gbenga Akinnagbe are a Dysfunctional Mother-Son Pair in Trailer for 'Knucklehead' Alfre Woodard and Gbenga Akinnagbe are a Dysfunctional Mother-Son Pair in Trailer for 'Knucklehead' What to Expect in Season 2 of 'Empire' (Less Opulence; Spike Lee May Direct, Oprah May Guest-Star, More) What to Expect in Season 2 of 'Empire' (Less Opulence; Spike Lee May Direct, Oprah May Guest-Star, More) 73 New TV Pilots & Series with Black Actors in Starring and/or Supporting Roles Ordered for Next Season. Here's the Full List 73 New TV Pilots & Series with Black Actors in Starring and/or Supporting Roles Ordered for Next Season. Here's the Full List HBO Seeks Diverse, Emerging Writers for HBOAccess Writing Fellowship HBO Seeks Diverse, Emerging Writers for HBOAccess Writing Fellowship Why Was Janet Hubert (Aunt Viv) Really Replaced on 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air'? Buzzfeed Investigates Why Was Janet Hubert (Aunt Viv) Really Replaced on 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air'? Buzzfeed Investigates Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie... Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie...

Harry Lennix Takes On 'The Butler' - Says Lee Daniels 'N*ggerfies It,' Calls It 'Historical Porn'

Shadow and Act By Sergio | Shadow and Act July 11, 2013 at 2:53PM

Considering the heated reaction to Courtney's item about Spike Lee's comments on Django Unchained over the weekend, I thought, what better time to write about something I've actually been sitting on for a while. But first some background...
130
lennix

First some background...

Several months ago or so, I did an interview for another site with actor Harry Lennix, who all of you know, and was seen this summer in Warner Bros' huge Superman reboot, Man of Steel. But the interview wasn't about that; it was instead about Harry's upcoming indie projects, like the fascinating Mr. Sophistication, directed by Danny Green, in which he plays a Richard Pryor-like self-destructive comedian attempting a comeback, and his all-black version of Shakespeare's Henry IV, called H4, which has just finished post-production. And both of those are on top of 6 other pictures he's completed that are scheduled to be released next year.

Knowing Harry personally for many years, we really had more of a conversation than an interview; he is, as always, up front, totally honest and says exactly what he thinks. And that is so refreshing, considering how most people in the business are reluctant to speak out on anything, or be opinionated.

However, when the interview appeared on the other site where it was posted, it was severely edited, to put it nicely, and a lot of what he said was cut out, evidently fearing that Harry had stepped on some toes. Especially what Harry said about black imagery in the media and, in particular, Lee Daniels' upcoming film The Butler, with Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey, about the long-serving butler who worked at the White House - a film that's currently in the middle of a court battle over the title, between The Weinstein Company and Warner Bros.

As you can read below, Harry is not too thrilled about the film:

Which leads me to asking do you constantly have to think about the image you are portraying as black man every time to do a role?

"I think about it every day and any time that a role is offered, and believe me lots of crummy roles are offered. But at this point people know better than to mess with me with a lot of these things. For example Lee Daniels sent me the script for that film he’s making now, The Butler, about the black butler at the White House. I read five pages of this thing and could not go any further. I tried to read more of it, and I’m not a soft spoken guy, but it was such an appalling mis-direction of history in terms of taking an actual guy who worked at the White House. But then he “niggerfies” it. He "niggers" it up and he gives people these, stupid, luddite, antediluvian ideas about black people and their roles in the historical span in the White House and it becomes… well... historical porn. I refused."

Well that’s not good.

"And people want to see these images so they’ll say things like: “It’s a very difficult movie to look at, but it’s great movie.” That’s a contradiction in terms. That’s a paradox. It can’t be that it’s a great movie, but it’s difficult to look at. You know what I mean? (laughs) Why would you put these images out there? But clearly the critics, many of them, love to see this kind of material and love to see us in these types of roles."

Because it feeds into…  

"Because it feeds into the great lie that is being perpetrated by the most important medium, the most powerful export that the United States has to offer which is entertainment. The most powerful tool that they have and it has kept us in a place, men in dresses and things, raping their daughters and things. While any sort of aberrant behavior happens in any community, it has become normative in black cinema that we are these bestial, deprived people, and I refuse to play with that."

Well just keep fighting the good fight.

"I’ll never take part in it. They can kiss my ass (laughs). But it’s not going to happen."

That's my man Harry telling it like it is.

This article is related to: harry lennix


Shadow & ActNewsletter