A Letter to Cathy Hughes (and anyone else who is interested)

Last week, I came across an article (I think it was on EUR Report) that told of how Cathy Hughes (TV ONE) slammed both Halle Berry and Mo’Nique. Halle, for her award winning role in Precious and Halle, for hers in Monster’s Ball. She said that the stories never should have been written and she knew of no black woman that acted like Mo’Nique’s character. I will admit that neither film was easy to watch, but I thought both were stunning in their performances. I don’t know of any WOMAN, period, that would have done what either of those characters would have done, but I have no doubt that some variation of those characters exist.
        Cathy also said that those were films that never should have been made. Hmm. Let’s examine that. True, they were difficult stories, but rather than blast the actors who were just that--actors, consider what the films did do. In an industry where there is a dearth of roles for Black actors, black women in particular, those films provided employment and exposure to several actors of color. Gabey Sibedy’s career was launched. Monster’s Ball also launched the career of another young black actor from Louisiana, Coronji Calhoun. Beyond that, Lee Daniels was the director of both of those films, and there are very few times that a Black director gets to be involved with films that receive that kind of acclaim. In addition, Precious was adapted by a book by a Black author. That’s a lot of paychecks. How many of us are still waiting in that line? Several of us have had our books optioned or near optioned, only to be thrown into development hell where nothing much seems to go on.
        Cathy Hughes asked the question “Where are the positive stories?” Rather than blast the actors for taking a job, especially in times when such jobs are so scarce, why not help find some of those positive stories, the ones that portray actors of color in more positive situations and develop a diversity of roles for Black actors? The romantic comedies, the dramas, they are out there, waiting for the funds and someone with the vision to make it happen.
        Cathy, I have one of those for you. Actually I have three. I’m an award winning novelist and FILMMAKER now. I have cut my teeth on a few shorts and by participating as producer at various levels on other people’s films. After watching several of my works be near-optioned several times, I have worked and honed a screenplay, a romantic comedy, that offers those diverse roles with no buffoonery or stereotypical images, a strong story based on a story that reviewers said was a character study with characters based on classical greek archetypes. I know you want to make a difference, so here’s your chance.
        The reason those movies were made is because someone, somewhere, green-lighted them and wrote a check to put their money behind their beliefs. If we have stories we think need to be told, ones that portray the true diversity of the Black American Experience, we have to do the same. There are stories that will never be told unless we do it ourselves and I know there are others just like me who would welcome a little monetary support and gladly give credit (and points) where credit is due.
        So, Cathy, if you want to see our POSITIVE stories in film, I (or my agent) will gladly take a meeting and tell you about my projects. Or you can email me and I will tell you the address of the legal counsel that is accepting checks for my (now) independent film. Did I mention, the screenplay has already garnered interest from several well-known actors and actresses that would love to be employed, especially where they can keep their clothes on?

Thank you, in advance, for your consideration.


Dr Kirnon said…
Don't you just love it. These women of color who have access to promoting the things they claim that needs to be seen are not even open to make it happen. They make the money, grow then sell the company, sit back and complain. Betsy Johnson recently criticized Oprah about her OWN network. I wonder it they even think before they speak. I wish you the very best!
Stephanie said…
Interesting letter. I think it would be a great idea for you ladies to meet. I myself would be honored to meet with you.

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