Justin Simien on making horror flick ‘Bad Hair’ for Black women
The 'Dear White People' creator moves his talents to the horror genre in a new Hulu movie
Justin Simien is best known for his work on Netflix’s super successful series, Dear White People but is now showing off a whole new side of his talents with the hilarious horror flick, Bad Hair.
theGrio caught up with the man behind the movie that stars Elle Lorraine, Vanessa Williams, Lena Waithe, Kelly Rowland, Laverne Cox, Usher Raymond, Jay Pharoah, Blair Underwood, and MC Lyte, to find out what attracted him to the ‘hair-raising’ project.
“I wanted to make this movie first and foremost for Black women. That’s who I made it for,” Simien told theGrio.
Bad Hair hits Hulu on Oct. 23, but it first premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January.
“I made a few tweaks since Sundance because I also wanted to make sure that the Black women who were showing up to this movie, especially maybe seeing a Black female lead for the first time felt like ultimately this was for them. This wasn’t about them just seeing their tragedy blown up on a on a big or small screen,” he explains.
While Bad Hair delivers a lot of laughs and tons of 90s nostalgia, it also highlights how much of the pop culture we consume and the hair trends we subscribe to have been influenced by our community’s muted history.
“So much of what has happening now in our country couldn’t happen without a dedicated misinformation propaganda machine that has been going on, really, since the founding of the country,” says Simien.
“One of the joys of being a filmmaker for me is going back into the past and actually getting to research the things that I’m making movies about. When I researched this movie, I discovered 1989 was actually the year when the weave sort of becomes something that was accessible to everyday Black women.
“It’s also the peak of New Jack Swing, which supposedly was a Black movement and, you know, this is the beginning of the Black independent film renaissance,” he continues. “Five years later, we’re gone. White people were doing that kind of music and it was called pop. And there were about two Black filmmakers that were allowed to make a film…That’s not the kind of thing you just sort of learn in school. I’m constantly digging into my own Black history, my own past, and finding so much validation there.”
He’s also standing against the notion that Black folks in horror films is a new idea.
“’Get Out’ coming out in theaters was a huge win for this movie because we had a premise and I knew that there would be an audience for it, but some people had to be convinced. Black horror is a thing. As I started to research even further, Black horror is not new. Horror noire has been around for a long time and you never know the stuff until you dig and you find it out for yourself,” he says.
“We actually come from a long line of really great experimental radical artists,” Simien added. “One of the worst things that racism does in this country is it removes our past and it rewrites it. And we’ve got to fight for it back.”
Check out the full interview above.
Bad Hair is now streaming on Hulu.
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