Thursday, May 19, 2022

Rick Famuyiwa Talks ‘Dope’ Inspiration (exclusive)

dope poster

*This weekend is officially “Dope” weekend. Open Road’s African-American teen comedy hit theaters June 19, and Deadline is reporting that the film has already earned $425K from midnight screenings. The pic goes wide Friday in 2,002 theaters. Industry figures estimate the film bringing in $6.5M-$8M.

“Dope” stirred up a buying frenzy at the Sundance Film Festival back in January, generating a lot of buzz and high praise after plays at the Los Angeles Film Festival and the Cannes Film Festival’s Directors’ Fortnight where it was the closing title.

The film, directed by Rick Famuyiwa, is loosely based on his life in the Inglewood Los Angeles neighborhood where he grew up. The story follows a smart teen (Shameik Moore) who dreams of leaving the hood and attending Harvard. Complications ensue when he gets caught up with a  drug dealer’s backpack of dope.

We had the pleasure of attending a preview screening and we can’t praise this movie enough. Go support this brilliant film by Rick Famuyiwa, who we recently chatted with about his inspiration for the film.

“I (wanted) to highlight the pull that’s so great in these communities that even the best of and the most promising kids end up falling into, and I grew up with them and it’s always been something that I think about a lot because I grew up with a lot of people that I considered very smart and talented who none the less still ended up doing and being involved in things that weren’t what their potential was,” Rick said.

Rick revealed how many of his childhood friends inspired the process of writing the film.

“I thought a lot about that as I was thinking about this film because I think it’s so easy for people to go ‘that’s just a bad kid’ when they see these things and they just read about stuff that happens,” Rick said. “But I grew up with so many guys who, when we were all 13, 14 and 15-years old, we were just kids running around being kids and then many-many years later you’ll hear about some kid who’s in jail for murder for life, and all this stuff and it’s like ‘that guy?’ So I’ve been fascinated by that and obviously dismayed by that on many levels.”

Rick continued with, “I just wanted to show that it’s not as easy as cut and dry – good and bad – black and white, and so much of your circumstances are determined by things you have no control over.”

When we asked the filmmaker what makes him dope, he said “This kid right here,” smiling at “Dope” lead Shameik Moore, who explained in what ways he relates to his character Malcolm.

“I’m not like the kids in my environment, like Malcolm is not like the kids in his environment growing up,” Moore said. “I think Malcolm is okay with expressing himself in a way that makes him happy, and I was always that way as well. All those positive things about Malcolm naturally I can definitely connect with. But I think I’m a little bit more comfortable around women than Malcolm,” he jokes.

The title of the movie is obvious but on the other hand, we asked Rick what went into calling it “Dope” as opposed to “Nerds in the Hood?”

“I felt like this was about different meanings and layers of meanings and perceptions and that word could mean many different things,” he said. “So I knew at the heart of it was going to be drugs, because I wanted to write the real commentary on these kinds of movies and just this situation, but I also know that-that means I thought Malcolm and his friends were the coolest kids on the block so they’re dope to me.”

Go support this movie! Get your tickets at

Read our interview with the “Dope” cast.

dope - rick famuyiwa
‘Dope’ Film Director, Rick Famuyiwa

Ny MaGee
Ny MaGee is an entertainment reporter with over 15 years of experience working in the film industry in areas including production and post-production, marketing, distribution, and acquisitions. She has worked for legendary film producer Roger Corman, Quentin Tarantino's production team at Miramax, the late Larry Flynt, MTV/ VH1, Hallmark Channel, Paramount, Jim Henson Co., Parade Magazine, and various LA-based companies representing above-the-line talent.




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