Citing the controversial Ridley Scott film “Exodus: Gods and Kings,” in which Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton played biblical figures Moses and Ramses, while non-white actors played slaves and servants, ABFF founder Jeff Friday says he understands both the outrage and the casting decision.
“I see both sides of that. If you want to tell a true story, they should not have been all white actors,” Friday told Sway. “But when you spend $140 million. Hollywood truly believes that black doesn’t travel. So, as a producer, make yourself Ridley Scott… you can put A$AP Rocky in the movie or you can put Colin Farrell in the movie. You’re gonna put the person that you think sells the most tickets.”
Friday continued, “Capitalism takes over from ration or ration-ability in most cases with Hollywood. There’s always the struggle between what is the truth and what’s gonna make money.”
The ABFF was created 19 years ago to showcase stories by and about people of African descent. “Empire” actress Taraji P. Henson will serve as ambassador of this year’s ABFF, which runs from June 11-14 in New York City
Friday also offered a word of advice to aspiring Black filmmakers who look to folks like Oprah and Tyler Perry for help.
“We always talk about Tyler and Oprah, and we pick on these people. ‘Why doesn’t Denzel have a studio?’ He doesn’t want a studio! Let’s put our coins together, create something, go out and find the next Rick Famuyiwa (“Dope”) the next Ryan Coolger (“Fruitvale Station”).”
…or even the next Ava Duvernay (“Selma”). Let’s not forget to name drop Black women in Hollywood who are doing the damn thang!
You can watch Friday’s full interview in the video below. His comments about producing content start at 3:50, and he discusses Hollywood whitewashing at 13:01.