'Beyond the Lights' Director, Gina Prince-Bythewood, Rejects Calling Films "Black"

Director Gina Prince-Bythewood will hold a special place in the hearts of Black cinemaphiles for her first feature length film Love and Basketball. It's been nearly a decade and a half since that film's release, and Prince-Bythewood, whose new film "Beyond the Lights" opens this weekend, tells NPR's Morning Edition that Hollywood has not grown more hospitable to Blacks in film.

Why she's opposed to calling films "black"
'Black film' --that term allows studios to just marginalize a movie and say, "We've made our black film. We've made a film with People of Color in it" as opposed to "I just feel like People of Color should be in every genre."

On the difficulty she had getting "Beyond the Lights" made
It is tough. It tells us that things have not changed in 14 years. With Love and Basketball every studio turned it down. And with this film I felt like I had written a contemporary love story and a music film that was touching on contemporary themes and thought it would be an easy sell. I was shocked when everybody turned it down...It's disheartening to sit in meeting after meeting and people saying they love my script and they love my work, but they don't see this as a movie they want to do.
On whether she feels discriminated against
People ask me all the time if I feel discriminated against as a Black female director, and I actually don't because I get offered a ton of stuff, and if I wanted to work all the time I could but I like to direct what I've written so I feel what's discriminated against are my choices which is to focus on people of color and specificially women of color. Those are the films that are not getting made and those are the films that take more fight, but I'm up for the fight because if I'm not making them they're not going to get made and we become invisible again.
On why diverse images are so important
It's just about putting people of color in every genre and making it become normal. You know when The Cosby Show came out and everyone was up in arms about The Cosby Show and that it was reflecting a world that didn't exist, but I knew black doctors and I knew black lawyers and I knew families that had a mother and a father and kids that were well-behaved. So right now there's a perception in the world that black people don't love each other --that they don't get married and it's because we don't see it. There are never any images of that in TV and film. and without those images young black people have nothing to aspire to and the world continues to perpetuate this myth about the lack of black love.

Kimberly Foster is the founder and editor of For Harriet. Email or


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