WATCH: Melina Matsoukas on casting British leads in ‘Queen & Slim’: “All they see is Blackness”
The film's director explains why Jodie Turner-Smith was the perfect choice.
Queen & Slim hits theaters this week and theGrio sat down with director, Melina Matsoukas to find out how she approached this fabulous film.
Prior to Queen & Slim, the Grammy-winning director was best-known for helming stunning, shorter projects like Beyonce‘s “Formation” video. She also directed Insecure and the episode of Master of None that earned Lena Waithe her first Emmy.
Written by Lena Waithe, the film stars Jodie Turner-Smith and Daniel Kaluuya in roles that highlight what it means to be Black in America today.
“I think I’m the most proud of the reaction from my community. With how it’s resonating with people and how they can really see themselves as a reflection of both Queen and Slim and how they see themselves in this film,” she says.
To some folks’ surprise, both of the leads are played by British-born actors. Since so many people have had major issues with Black, British actors nabbing high-profile roles in the U.S., we couldn’t help but wonder what informed this particular casting decision.
“I won’t take away her American-ness because she is British but she grew up here since she was 7 so it’s kind of unfair to not consider her American because she’s an immigrant and that’s so many of us,” she says of Jodie Turner-Smith. “Police brutality and racism in this country is not something that only African Americans experience. Once you’re in America, if you’re Black in America, the police are blind about it. That’s all they see is Blackness.”
According to Matsoukas, who makes her feature film directorial debut with the powerful project, Jodie Turner-Smith was the perfect person to portray Queen.
“She’s incredible. Her talent is immense. She was everything. She is Queen. She is royalty. She has this incredible sense of strength and confidence but also a vulnerability and a joy and a laughter that she brings to the character that I hadn’t seen in anybody else,” she explains. “When I first watched her first tape I knew she was our Queen.”
Check out the full interview above.
Queen & Slim hits theaters November 27.