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Queen & Slim – Protest Art

from BLACKGIRLNERDS

Lena Waithe on Meeting James Frey and Using The Story of ‘Queen & Slim’ as Protest Art

By Jamie Broadnax

Photograph: David Levene

Lena Waithe is on fire with a never-ending series of projects under her belt, and this holiday season, her next film Queen & Slim will take you on a wild ride through some unexpected adventures.

One evening at a party, author James Frey approached Lena Waithe about a story involving a Black couple. A Black man and a Black woman on a first date. It’s not going well, but not going horribly either. They’re on their way home. They get pulled over. A cop gets aggressive. They kill him in self-defense, and they go. Frey knew that this was a story worth telling, but not through his lens.

Enter Emmy-winning writer Lena Waithe (Netflix’s Master of None) and filmmaker Melina Matsoukas — the mastermind behind Beyonce’s “Formation” music video — and now we’re telling a story through the lens of brilliant Black visionaries that can add nuance with ease.

The unflinching new drama Queen & Slim released by Universal Pictures, stars Get Out’s Daniel Kaluuya as Slim and Nightflyers‘ Jodie Turner-Smith as Queen. After Queen and Slim are pulled over in their vehicle, the situation escalates and Slim is forced to kill the police officer in self-defense. In a complicated situation predicated on a history of state-sanctioned violence and criminal injustice against African-Americans, the two fear for their lives and is forced to go on the run.

Their story is complicated further when the incident is captured on video and goes viral. Queen and Slim become a symbol of trauma, terror, grief, and pain for people across the country. BGN was invited to the set a week before Mardi Gras in New Orleans to chat with the cast and crew of the impending feature film.

On Meeting James Frey and the Idea Behind the Script

One evening at a party, Lena Waithe meets novelist James Frey. He is notably known or notoriously known for his book “A Million Little Pieces” that became an Oprah book club selection. However shortly after reports emerged that his autobiography was more fiction than fact, the author was under fire. Oprah wasn’t all too pleased, and eventually, the beef between the two was squashed.  James Frey clearly has a creative mind, and negative scrutiny hasn’t stopped him from writing.

According to Waithe: 

“James Frey pitched me the opening at a party and [he] was like, “I can’t write this movie. I need a person to write it who understands it.” So all he gave me was an opening and that opening I was like, ‘Got it. I know what the movie is. Let me go figure this out.’ He had a different title that wasn’t right. Titles are really important.  [I thought] what are some things that I can do to make every Black man, every Black woman, no matter what your walk of life is or where you are coming from, can look at them and see a piece of yourself in them?”

The two exchanged emails, and Waithe asked Frey if he had an outline and if he had a title.

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Posted on July 8, 2019 by Editor

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