Twenty years ago during a press junket for Posse, I distinctly remember writer/director Mario Van Peebles expressing his frustration with a group of us about the double standard employed by Hollywood toward Black filmmakers and actors. Times may change but the situation remains the same according to Taye Diggs.
In a recent interview with AP, Diggs says Hollywood studios hold African-American films to a frustratingly separate and unfair standard.
Whether a studio decides to proceed with a black-oriented film can depend on the success of other movies with primarily African-American casts, even if the projects are unconnected, said Diggs, who starred in The Best Man romantic comedy and its sequel.
In the interview, Diggs expressed frustration that he and others who worked on the Best Man movies are eager to start on a third. But its fate is tied to how other black-oriented films, including the upcoming Think Like a Man Too, perform at the box office, he said.
“Unfortunately, the business is such that as far as studios are concerned, they judge one quote-unquote black movie on how other ‘black’ movies have done, even if they have nothing to do with each other,” Diggs said.
That’s “ridiculously” frustrating,” said Diggs, “We’ve definitely come a long way. But we’ve got a long way to go. It’s too bad we can’t do well on our own merit when it comes to the studios. They don’t like to take risks and, unfortunately, we’re still considered a huge risk, even though I don’t think we are.”
The Best Man Holiday grossed more than $70 million in North America last year and was profitable.
During the press tour for the release of The Best Man Holiday, Director Malcolm Lee spoke about how members of the ensemble made major sacrifices to ensure that the film got made. Despite the success of the both of the films in The Best Man franchise, it is puzzling why, at least according to Diggs, that the fate of future films are tied to other Black film series.
Unfortunately, Diggs has discovered that Van Peebles’ experience remains more the rule than the exception.
The Best Man Holiday distributor, Universal Studios, declined comment.