*Legendary actor and director Bill Duke chopped it up with radio and TV personality Jazmyn Summers about a new film initiative to tell the story of Captain Robert Smalls, a 21-year-old enslaved Black man who fought for his family’s freedom by commandeering a Confederate ship. On May 13, 1862, Smalls took over the ship and sailed with his family and fellow comrades to Union territory and freedom.
“For this man to do what he did at a time of our genocide, slavery, is phenomenal” Duke tells EURweb.com Spotlight in an exclusive interview. “His story is so relevant today, he eventually became a politician and bought his master’s house. His story tells us to stop using excuses. Nothing can stop you.”
Bill Duke is an executive producer along with The Wolper Organization, which produced the legendary “Roots,” to give this American hero his due in a feature film. It’s being financed by a group of regular folks through Legion M, an organization that gives fans an opportunity to invest in Hollywood. The group currently boasts over 125,000 members and investors strong.
Duke, who plays Agent Percy Odell in “Black Lightning,” which is in its final season, reveals to Spotlight that there is definitely going to be a spin-off.
“What I love about ‘Black Lightning’ is that it’s about a non-comic nuclear Black family. To see us as human beings going through the same things that all families go through.”
Duke who has an almost 50-year career as an actor and director starred opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger in “Commando” and “Predator” and appeared in numerous other films including “Carwash,” “American Gigolo,” “Menace II Society,” “X Men” and “Bird On A Wire.” He has directed innumerable episodes of TV series including “Cagney and Lacey,” “Hill Street Blues,” “Miami Vice,” the “Twilight Zone,” “American Playhouse,” as well as “Sister Act II,” “Deep Cover” and “A Rage in Harlem.”
At this stage in his life, Duke says he is more passionate about directing than acting, wanting to produce films he calls edutainment. “I want to entertain and educate,” he shared with Spotlight. His other passion is to help young people get into the industry and be financially literate through his foundation.
Duke, 78 years old, tells Spotlight to stay young he mediates every day to be spiritually strong.
“I want my legacy to be I cared about more than myself,” he shares.
Watch the full interview below to learn about investing in the film, his career and check him out as he spits his famous line from Menace II Society, “You know you done F’d up.”