David Alan Grier talks ‘The American Society of Magical Negroes’

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What would you do if you could instantly become a magical Negro with superpowers? But there’s a problem… you can only use them to make white people comfortable.

Source: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty

First time director and writer, Kobi Libby American Society of Magical Negroes takes Eren (Justice Smith) to a magical universe where black people are given supernatural abilities and their mentor Roger, played by David Alan Grier, teaches them how to use them for the comfort of white people. The film is based on the adage “The Magical Negro” which is used in literature and film when a black character is used for support and uses his or her skills and abilities to aid white characters in need.

Bossip met the cast of the film during its premiere in New York City. On the red carpet, Justice Smith talked to us about signing on for the role because he saw himself in Eren.

“I grew up in a very white place. So I understood what it was like to survive socially in a white environment. So I knew I could play the complexity of their psychology, thinking, “Maybe if I just treat them a little nicer, they’ll respect me,” even though that never happens. If anything, it makes them feel better about you and Allows for more disrespect. I understood those layers, I felt like I could do justice. No kidding.”

Smith also opened up about when he was separated from the Magical Negro in his life.

“When I left that place. I grew up in Orange County. It was a dark time, to be honest. But it wasn’t until I moved that I truly felt liberated. And I started meeting people like me and finding community, community is very healing.

Famed David Alan Grier and certified #BossipFam member stopped by to chat with us about the new film and why, as a seasoned actor, he chose to work with a first-time writer and director.

“I like to do this, I call it subversive advice. So one of the things I was trying to do with Kobe is give him respect on the set and respect his leadership. Because that’s the way the set should be, and it’s his first film and he’s wild,” Grier said. “He’s just trying to get his voice out, but at the end of the day, it’s the script, the character. I really responded to this character. I love big black guys like this (Roger), especially when I was younger.

The Tony Award winner also contributed his perspective to this satirical film as an entertainer and comedian with four decades of experience.

“From The Wiz’s Lion to ‘A Soldier’s Play,’ I really try to find the humanity in all the characters and try to make them as whole as possible,” the Tony Award winner said. “Now if it’s a comedy, I find the comedy more legitimate when it’s backed up with all this. A lot of it the audience doesn’t need to know, but I need to know to bring it to life, so it’s always trying to create and show a perfect character. It’s fun to be a caricature, but we know people like that.”

Another comedian in the group is TV and podcast host Nicole Byer, who drew on her personal experience to play Dede, president of the American Society of Magical Negroes.

“The whole Magical Negro trope is something I’ve had to audition for my whole life. The fat, funny, best friend who literally has nothing to strive for in her life because she has no back story. Sometimes he doesn’t even have a last name.” nailed it The host said. “I auditioned for a truck driver or something like that, she looks like a linebacker but somehow still gets screwed. And she remains the butt of jokes. And so I had to bring it in and it was fun.

Bayer also praised the film’s director Koby Libby. “Coby, the director and the writers were really amazing and they trusted me to create this character from the ground up.”

On the carpet, Libby was ready to discuss the online buzz surrounding the film’s trailer, specifically the interracial love story.

“A lot of the conversations that came up are about colorism, about interracial relationships, you know, and centering darker-skinned black people is an incredibly important thing to do in film, centering black love stories. “Focusing is an incredibly important thing that film does, and I believe in a lot of films that are doing that,” Libby said.

“I think in some ways the biggest challenge about the trailer was that when we look at black superheroes, what we want to see is black people using their superpowers to escape past systemic racism. Have been. Like the Wakanda of the world. And in my film, it’s a satire. Black people are using their superpowers in some ways to promote and aid systemic racism and to criticize the worldwide movement in this way is a satire. But I still think it’s a really challenging thing for a lot of viewers to watch, especially in the limited context of the trailer.

Libby also discussed her hopes for audiences to see the film in its entirety.

“I believe everyone criticizing this film will find more kinship in the values ​​of the actual film after watching the whole thing. So I invite the conversations that came out of the trailer and I really hope that people will see the full film, which I believe is much more nuanced and has a lot more detail, a lot more specificity.

American Society of Magical Negroes Now available to stream on Universal Pictures Home Entertainment


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