Today’s guest is none other than filmmaker Reggie Hudlin, a man whose work quietly shaped my world view over the years, but also a man who gave birth to the careers of so many of my favorite movie stars.
In this episode, Reggie and I delve into how growing up in East Saint Louis, Illinois, and eventually attending Harvard University, shaped his perspectives on some of life’s biggest issues; and why he chose to use film as the medium through which he wanted to share his views.
But, before I get into my interview with Reggie, I want to briefly address some of the entertainment related events that have been affecting American culture over the past week.
TERRY CREWS BREAKS SILENCE ON BEING SEXUALLY ASSAULTED
In light of the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault case that has rocked the film industry, actor Terry Crews tweeted about being groped by an unnamed Hollywood executive at a party recently.
According to the “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” star, he thought about physically defending himself against his offender until he considered the possible headlines on the incident: “240 lbs. Black Man stomps out Hollywood Honcho,” he surmised. “Only I probably wouldn’t have been able to read it because I WOULD HAVE BEEN IN JAIL. So we left.” READ MORE HERE
REGINALD HUDLIN INTERVIEW SNIPPET:
The fact that your great-great grandparents were a part of the Underground Railroad, just blew my lid! How did growing up in East Saint Louis affect your decision to become a filmmaker? What was it about your environment that inspired you to do that?
East Saint Louis is a very colorful place. It’s full a great characters and great stories, and I wanted to tell my story and our story. I grew up around people like, Katherine Dunham, dancer and choreographer, who in the 70s created a college prep program for kids in East Saint Louis. It was state funded, basically, and because of the riots in Detroit and Watts and, they thought East Saint Louis was next. [laughs] So, they thought it was a good idea to do something before the people started burning things down. Which was smart and effective and it led to folks taking that energy and doing something positive and artistic. It definitely helped shaped me and others that I lived around.
House Party was one of my favorite movies growing up. It was the first time that I had gotten to see Martin Lawrence in a film. I am a huge Martin fan and he had me cracking up throughout the whole film. I’m from Illinois and I have family who live in the East Saint Louis area, and I heard about the stories about the HIV rate back then. How did that inspire you to do House Party with that particular safe sex message?
At the time when we were making that movie there was that first explosion of HIV, right. When you make movies you have to first entertain because if you don’t entertain the movie is a failure, period. Then as part of the entertainment you have to have what I call, protein, which is something substantial. Not the preachy moment or the shut everything down and get serious moment. But are you elevating people, while entertaining people are you saying something worth wild.
I knew just by having Kid (played by Christopher ‘Kid’ Reid) being in a moment of truth with Sidney (played by Tisha Campbell-Martin) then choosing to have safe sex would be a good thing to say. At that point in the movie you would have so much fun, you could slip that in and people wouldn’t notice it and it worked. A year later we got this award from health clinic in New Jersey for encouraging safe sex among teens. So, while we were at the awards and I was talking to the doctor who heads the clinic I said, “This is really nice but isn’t this an exaggeration for giving us an award for this?” He said, “No. Kids come up to the clinic and they reference your film. They reference the fact that Kid made that choice not to have sex without a condom.”
Movies can really make a difference in people’s lives and the things you say. That was a decision I made philosophically but to get it positively reinforced like that from the beginning made me say that’s it I’m doing that from now on.
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