According to The Weinstein Company’s co-chair, Harvey Weinstein, we are experiencing a rise in the number of movies with African-American actors in part because of the election of President Barack Obama.
“It’s overdue,” Weinstein said during a recent interview. “You have great black filmmakers like Lee Daniels, Ryan Coogler, Steve McQueen, and great actors like Idris [Elba] and Chiwetel [Ejiofor] and Naomie Harris. It’s a great moment … Hopefully it signals, with President Obama, a renaissance. He’s erasing racial lines. It is the Obama effect. It’s a better country. What a great thing.”
During an interview with theGrio’s Chris Witherspoon, 12 Years a Slave cast members, Alfre Woodard and Chiwetel Ejifor discussed Obama’s effect on Hollywood.
“I don’t really agree completely with that [Harvey’s] statement,” Woodard said. “I think people are going to go see 12 Years a Slave because of word of mouth… people will tell them about how much they have been affected by watching this film. How they have been frightened by it, but exhilarated by it, and how they have seen a lot of brutality, but also even more so they’ve seen beauty and love in it.”
“There’s a whole other discussion about the fact that having President Obama in the White House… the effect it has had on culture.”
Ejiofor says that people are going to see 12 Years a Slave because the story of Solomon Northup is extraordinary, but also believes that having a black president has given Hollywood the opportunity to tell more stories about the black experience.
“I’m certain that there is more of a dialogue or more of an opportunity to tell more stories about the black experience because there’s a black president,” Ejiofor said. “There’s the nature of the free market, which I suppose, whether there’s a black president or not, decide[s] how many films there are out there.”
12 Years a Slave opens in theaters nationwide October 18.
Follow Chris Witherspoon on Twitter at @WitherspoonC