John Singleton - Creating the Female Shaft in "Rebel"

March 27, 2017 - John Singleton 03/27/2017 Views: 12,299

John Singleton explains why he wanted to tell a story about a black female cop on "Rebel" and talks about profiling different voices for his documentary "L.A. Burning." (5:26)

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Please welcome John Singleton.

-♪ -(cheering, applause)

Hey. Hey, hey.


-It's great to see you, man.-Good to see you.

I'm watching you every...every night and, like,

now I'm kicking it up herewith you. This is...

-It's kind of live, man.-Oh, the... I feel like

then you should return the favorwhen you make your next movie,

-I can kick it with you.-Okay, hey, I-I see you

-do all these characters, man.-Yes!

Yeah, hey.

-Uh, welcome to the show.-Yeah, good to be here.

I am genuinely honoredto have you here.

Your movies have beenan influence

in not just minebut many people's lives.

Uh, let's talk about Rebel. Straight into the story.

It is a powerful storyabout a police officer

who shoots her partner

-to stop himfrom shooting her brother, -Yes.

-whom they've just come acrosswith a gun. -Yes.

What inspired the story,what got you into it,

and why'd you say the phrase--more importantly, you said

"This character is basicallyShaft if it was a black woman."

Well, I wanted to...

What's been going on in the lastcouple of years and everything

and stuff and seeingall these black people

getting their ass kicked,

I wanted to show a black womankicking ass.

-That was my whole thing.-(cheering, applause)


Instead of-instead of using a...instead of using a boot,

she's kicking... putting thatpump in that ass, like...

She getting in... she definitelyis getting in there.

-She's getting in there.-And wh-wh... what I liked

about the story isit-it tackles issues

from an interesting perspective.

Yes. Inside.

-She's inside the policedepartment. -Yeah.

And then she becomesdisillusioned

with everythingthat is going on around her,

and it's like the insider

goes to become an insiderto an outsider

and then tries to deal justicein her own way.

It's interesting that you saythat, because, you know,

we've seen stories recentlyof, obviously,

black people and the policehaving, uh, altercations

and having issues. But what'smore interesting sometimes

is seeing how black policeare having to skirt that line,

because you're stilla black person

and you are a police officer

and you're seen as a... almosta traitor in both communities,

-depending on what you say.-Exactly. I mean...

And-and, you know,there was a Facebook post

that was out a year agowith this black woman...

Y'all ever see it?Any of y'all seen that?

It was a black woman.She was talking about what

-she's going through,being a cop, -Yeah. Yep.

and just, like...she feels some of her colleagues

shouldn't be on the forceand stuff.

And we were working on thiswhile we did this,

and we were like,"Wow, we're onto something."

You know, like,that-that whole thing

of being in the blue familybut being black

and having some-some interestin your community

and your obligationswith the community

and then your obligationson the job.

And they're-they'retwo different things.

And they could be... they shouldbe, actually, the same thing,

but, you know, the systemmakes them two different things

at certain times.

When you... when you're creatinga story like this,

there's a lotof personal experiences

that you're drawing from.You've been making movies

and-and TV for a while,and you've been telling

a lot of storiesas they pertain to you

and the worldthat you grew up in.

What was most important for youin telling the story in Rebel?

Well, for me, it was justto really get the soul

of who this person wasas a character

so people can watch the show

and really identifywith her emotionally.

So women can look at it and say,"Wow, I know someone like that,"

or they can live vicariouslywith-within this character

-as she's going throughher action beats -Yeah.

and the adventureof trying to do

all these different caseso-over the season.

You-You're no strangerto telling stories

that are very much connected

to what's happeningin the real world.

-For instance, Boyz n the Hood. -That's my whole thing.

-Boyz n the Hood was-was,really, what most people -Yeah.

came to know you from.You know, you were nominated--

rightfully so-- for that film,

and you've gone onto make great movies.

You're also makinga-a documentary now

-about the '92 riots. Yeah.-The L.A. Riots. 25 years later.

-In L.A.-Yes, yes. Um, and, with that,

we really wanted to gofrom an embedded point of view

of the people that a lot ofthese documentaries don't want

to talk toor they're scared to talk to.

We-we wentin the black community,

we wentin the Hispanic community

and the Korean community,

and we're really showing how,

25 years ago later,there are a lot of people

who have emotional baggagefrom that-that three-day event.

They... It just scarred themfor life.

You know,and we just really wanted to do

a different perspective on-onthe riots that, you know...

that a lot of peoplewouldn't do.

One of the most powerful thingsI-I heard you say--

and, um,I'm-I'm gonna paraphrase--

but it was basically inand around getting black people

-to create black stories,specifically. -Yes, yes. Yeah.

What-what I was goingfor that was

there are so many differentstories across the-the black

or African diasporathat haven't been told.

And I think that justthe cultural capital of that,

it should be black peopletelling them first, you know,

because you can tellthe difference

between someone who hasan authentic black

or Afrocentric point of viewtelling a black story

than someone who is, no matterwhat respect they have for it,

just interested in what I call

-the fetishized versionof that story. -Yeah, yeah.

And that's when I'm...You know, and I live by that.

-I live by that. -Well, you seeit in films like Get Out,

-for instance. You see it infilms... -Get Out is phenomenal.

Yeah, you can feel that it comesfrom a different place.

If Jordan hadn't written that,if it was someone else

with the same idea,it would never be the same.

And is that what you look for,basically,

is authentically retellinga story in your voice?

Absolutely, in-inthat person's specific voice

that-that can be feltby everyone else.

You do an amazing job, man.There's a reason

you're a legend. Thank youso much for being on the show.

I really appreciate you. Rebel premieres March 28 at 10:00p.m.

on BET. John Singleton,everybody.

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