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Queen & Slim & Police Violence

from COMPLEX

Lena Waithe’s ‘Queen & Slim’ Takes Aim at Police Violence

BY KHAL

Jodie Turner-Smith, Melina Matsoukas, Donna Langley, Lena Waithe, and Daniel Kaluuya
Image via Getty/Alberto E. Rodriguez

When you’re Living While Black in America, life can come at you fast. There are countless stories of black folk minding their own business and being harassed, assaulted, or gunned down by the police. Rarely do you hear of those roles being reversed—or, at the very least, a situation where an interaction between a black person and a police officer ends with the officer being gunned down. That’s the premise of Queen & Slim, the Daniel Kaluuya-starring project that’s been whispered about for the last six months (and received major buzz during CinemaCon back in April). This film marks the first feature-length project for multi-hyphenate Lena Waithe and Melina Matsoukas (who serve as writer and director, respectively).

The week before Mardi Gras, Universal Pictures sent a select group of African American journalists and outlets to New Orleans to visit the set of what’s been described as a “black Bonnie & Clyde.” The film (which hits theaters on November 27, 2019) is essentially a road movie, taking viewers on a cross-country trek with a black couple featuring the eponymous Queen & Slim—portrayed by fresh-faced Jodie Turner-Smith and Kaluuya respectively—who are on the run from police after their terrible first date turns into a traffic stop that  ends with a cop being killed—but Waithe has described it in the past as “protest art.”

“I can’t always make it to the marches or the rallies,” Waithe explained during a break in shooting, primarily due to how often she’s working on shows like The Chi or other projects she’s involved in. “When I sit down at my computer, that’s me. That’s my rallying cry. That’s me trying to figure out who we are.” Waithe also understands why some might compare the film to Bonnie & Clyde or Thelma & Louise, but she had a different classic in mind. “It’s such a huge compliment. Bonnie & Clyde changed the conversation. Thelma & Louise is iconic. But the thing that they aren’t realizing is another reference for me would be Set It Off. In terms of black people being at a very difficult place with their back being against the wall and nothing that they [can] do [but] to keep going.”

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Posted on June 21, 2019 by Editor

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