Nia DaCosta explains Beyoncé ‘Say My Name’ Candyman connection, talks making history directing Marvel movie

“Jordan [Peele] was so excited about it. And I was like, oh, that's brilliant," the director says about the song choice

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Director Nia DaCosta proves that she’s a true force of nature with her contemporary reimagining of the cult classic film Candyman

The 31-year-old Brooklyn native also penned the screenplay for the film alongside executive producers Jordan Peele and Win Rosenfeld

Candyman, which returns to the now-gentrified Chicago neighborhood where the legend began, stars a stellar cast, including Teyonah Parris, Yahya-Abdul Mateen II, and Colman Domingo

Last year, the trailer for Candyman, which featured Beyoncé singing a warped – creepy version of Destiny’s Child “Say My Name,” created a ruckus on the internet when it dropped. The Grammy-winning song’s chorus proved a perfect match for the film’s murdering villain, who appears when you stand in a mirror and say his name five times.

Not only is “Say My Name” played within the trailer, but it’s also a phrase mentioned several times within the film, and reportedly is the code name the movie was shot under two years ago in Chicago. 

CANDYMAN
Universal Pictures

DaCosta gave theGrio the tea on how “Say My Name” became such a big theme in Candyman.

“There’s the Beyoncé Destiny’s Child of it all, which is hilarious because one day Jordan [Peele] and I were out doing location scouting in Chicago,” DaCosta recalled. “He was like, ‘I have this idea. So the trailer… it gets really slow and creepy, and then Beyoncé [sings] “Say My Name, Say My Name.”

“Jordan was so excited about it. And I was like, oh, that’s brilliant.”

DaCosta added there’s also a much deeper meaning to the “Say My Name” Candyman tie-in. 

“The other side of it is the activist call-and-response, because it evokes, say their name, say his name, say my name, demanding the humanity of the person to be spoken out,” DaCosta said. “It was those two things we thought, and that’s sort of what Candyman is. It’s the real world heavy s**t. And then there’s the horror movie – the entertaining part. That’s where Beyonce and Candyman meet.” 

When the original Candyman movie came out in 1992, there seemed to be a pervasive thought in Hollywood that Black horror films didn’t sell. Very few Black horror movie pitches were greenlit and saw the light of day. However, today we seem to be in the midst of a golden age of Black horror storytelling. 

The African American Film Critics Association's 11th Annual AAFCA Awards - Inside
Nia DaCosta speaks at The African American Film Critics Association’s 11th Annual AAFCA Awards at Taglyan Cultural Complex on January 22, 2020 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images,)

DaCosta attributes the Black horror boom to the success of Peele’s 2017 directorial debut, Get Out, which was made for $4.5 million and grossed an impressive $255 million in combined domestic and international ticket sales. 

“You look at Jordan’’s first film, Get Out,  a sub $5 million dollar movie, which is really cheap to make a film, especially a film of that scale,” DaCosta said. “He proved that not only could the movie make a ton of money in the States and be critically acclaimed, but also internationally. That helps for other people to follow. I think that’s what’s changing… We’re able to prove ourselves more now.”

Last year, DaCosta made history when she was hired to direct the Captain Marvel sequel, The Marvels, becoming the first Black woman and the youngest filmmaker to direct a Marvel film, beating the record previously set by Ryan Coogler

DaCosta says she’s excited to bring Black Girl Magic to the project and is proud of the movie’s diverse cast. 

“The cast is so amazing… It’s incredibly diverse,” she revealed. “There are so many black women in the movie, which I love.  But also Teyonah Parris, who’s in Candyman, was already in Marvel land, just hanging out, waiting for me to get there.”

Candyman is now playing in theaters nationwide. 

Chris Witherspoon is the Founder – CEO of the movie and TV show discovery app PopViewers, and an entertainment contributor for theGrio.com. 

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