So What if Black Producers Helm Non-Black Films?

I read last week over at the Crime Sistah's blog ( that there's been an uproar over a black film producer, Debra Martin Chase, choosing to work on a Hispanic project, namely the mega-successful novel, The Dirty Girls Social Club, by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez.

The comments in response to the announcement are no longer available at the EUR website ( for some reason, but from what I understand, the gist of the matter is that many people criticized Ms. Chase for producing this project rather than one which would feature black actors (obviously I won't use the term, "actors of color.") This backlash came as a surprise to many people, including myself. First of all, Ms. Chase can produce any damn project she wants. If she can get the financing, more power to her. Why is there this thinking that blacks in film have to limit themselves to black-themed projects? Secondly, while Dirty Girls concentrates on the Hispanic culture, this culture includes many people who belong to the black race (including, I believe, two of the main six characters.)

Okay, so I don't know if all six characters will make it to the big screen. It's hard to devote screen time to the personal problems of so many people, although it's been done before (as when Mary McCarthy's bestselling novel The Group was adapted for the screen, and also Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club, which told the stories of four mothers and four adult daughters). Since Ms. Valdes-Rodriguez is writing the screenplay herself, I'm sure she'll try to include all six, so I'm not particularly worried about A Letter to Three Wives syndrome (self-explanatory; the title of the novel this classic film was based on was A Letter to Five Wives) happening here.

But if it is ultimately determined that six sucias won't fit into the film, please, please, please, don't drop the black ones!

Then I will be upset.


Shelia said...

I read the comments before they were deleted and it was ridicilous. I am looking forward to the book. We, as AA, shouldn't limit ourselves to please the masses and truthfully, who are "the masses." I'm glad the movie is being made. I'm sure it can be made with all of the main characters. Tyler Perry just did a set of 4 couples so hopefully the main characters make the cut.

bettye griffin said...

I think a movie is a good idea, too, Shelia! It'll be out sometime in 2008. The book was published in 2004. I'm a little surprised it took them so long to adapt it for the screen.

Patricia W. said...

More power to Ms. Chase. I'm surprised some of the uproar wasn't that a Hispanic director should have been doing the project. As if any of us are pure ethnic identities. And even if we were, why can't we accept and take advantage of whatever opportunities God blesses us with?

bettye griffin said...

Good point about the Hispanic director, Patricia, but I don't think that ever came up. Surely there's at least one Hispanic director in Hollywood . . .?