As we all know, John Singleton caused some controversy recently, in an interview he gave to The Hollywood Reporter last month, in which he said that he was very much troubled by the increasing trend of black directors not being allowed to tell black stories (HERE).
As he said: "They ain't letting the black people tell their stories. And you're like, oh ok, we're going to take your stories but you know what, you're going to go starve over here and we're not going to let you get a job...”
This came months after an op-ed he penned also for The Hollywood Reporter, in which he discussed the lack of black directors helming black films, in a piece titled "Can a White Director Make a Great Black Movie?," which was published in September 2013.
In that guest column, Singleton pointed out examples in The Help, and the upcoming James Brown biopic, Get On Up, both of which were directed by white filmmaker Tate Taylor.
A month after that piece was published, actress Octavia Spencer, who’s a close friend of Taylor and who, of course, had a Oscar winning supporting role in The Help, and will also appear in Get On Up, challenged what Singleton said.
In an October interview she gave to The Grio, as she shared, the problem for her is not so cut-and-dried as Singleton makes it out to be, stating: “Black directors don’t get the funding for their films. That’s the problem, not that white directors are telling these stories. It’s a Catch-22 really.”
She continued on: “Do I feel that white directors have to tell only white stories? No. Do I feel that black filmmakers should only tell stories about black people? No. If we say that, then that means Asian people cannot write about anybody but Asians. I don’t think a woman should only write about women…I think you, as an artist, you are driven by what compels you to tell that story.”
And finally, she added that: “If you’re a black director and the protagonist of your story happens to be black, if you have the same background, then you might have a better insight to that story. But I don’t think it lessens the impact of the story or is valued more if a person is of the same race or the same gender. .Singleton is going to put everybody in a box.”
So whose side are you on, Singleton or Spencer? Or perhaps you have a different take altogether. What do you say?