Meagan Good: I’ve often been told a Black female lead won’t sell overseas

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I haven’t seen Meagan Good much since she married Pastor DeVon Franklin in 2012. She has done a lot of work on TV over the last few years. Meagan and DeVon wrote a book called The Wait about how they remained celibate before marrying in order to create deeper intimacy in their relationship. Of course this revelation sort of ruined Meagan’s whole sexy girl routine that everyone became accustomed to. Meagan has released a passion project that would see her step into the role of director for the first time. If Not Now, When? was released January 8 and it centers four Black middle class women who were high school friends. Meagan says she had to do a Kickstarter to raise the funds to make the film but she could not raise enough. After being turned down multiple times by Hollywood execs who said no one would be interested in a movie that centered Black women *eye roll*, a private investor stepped in to help make If Not Now, When? a reality.

Meagan is profiled in The Daily Beast where she discusses what it was like as a Black actress seeking lead roles in Hollywood. She also talks about how it took four years to make her new project a reality and how she is proud to be a Black woman despite the rumors to the contrary. Below are a few excerpts from that interview.

On how long it took to get If Not Now, When? made
It took us about four years to get it made. Once I read the script and fell in love with it, Tam and I went out, and there were a few places that wanted to make it, but we wanted to make it the way that we wanted to make it. We raised a little money on Kickstarter, but it wasn’t enough, and then we had a private investor come in and started to pitch the project to him and he said, “Stop—you had me at ‘Black women.’ I was raised by all women, and I do feel like this generation needs this story.” And that was that.

The general conversation [when I tried to pitch it] was, “People don’t want to see a Black female drama.” And we would say, “That’s not true. We’ve had Waiting to Exhale and Set It Off. We just haven’t had it much in this generation.” Yes, we have ensembles and comedies, but we haven’t quite had anything that reminds me of the films we used to have in the ’90s, and we got a lot of pushback. But we thought, no, there’s an audience for this and we just need to find someone who believes in it the way we do.

I’ve been in the business for 30 years, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told outright that I can’t play the lead in the movie because having a Black female lead is not going to sell overseas. I think that conversation has shifted over time but not dramatically. One of the biggest examples is Black Panther. People try to make excuses and say, “Well, that’s because it was a Marvel movie.” No. It’s because we haven’t had the opportunity to do something like that.

On how Hollywood makes either tragedies or comedies about Black people
That’s a fact: It often is either the tragedy, or the cookout, or the comedy, or living in a certain ’hood—things that are culturally true experiences but can sometimes be caricatures and a lot of the time doesn’t represent every Black person. I grew up in Santa Clarita, California, and was one of one Black family growing up there. I dealt with a lot of racism and bullying, and coming into the industry, I was exposed to a lot of different people from a lot of walks of life. When I was 18 and I got my first serious boyfriend, he lived out in L.A., and when I went out there it was a culture shock for me, because I’d never seen that many Black people in one place. I was used to being one Black person in a sea of white people. I think that not every Black person’s experience as a human being is represented in film at the magnitude that it should be. And a lot of things that the film explores are not just Black women’s experiences, but I think it’s unique that you get to see it through their lens—women not being able to have babies, women not sure if they want to be a mother, women dealing with addiction and it’s not a drug you go buy off the street.

On being accused of skin bleaching
I love being a Black woman. I love even the struggle. I remember being in my early twenties and looking at some of my friends who were very frustrated with the commentary of, “You may not play the lead because you’re Black, and that might not sell our movies,” or this or that. I thought, “I can be bitter, or I can be better, and I can accept that when I accomplish something, I haven’t been given a damn thing. Nothing’s been given to me. I’ve worked tooth and nail for every single thing that God has allowed.” I take pride in that.

[From The Daily Beast]

I have yet to figure out why Hollywood continues to sell this bullsh*t that Black actors don’t sell overseas? We have two decades of Will Smith and Denzel Washington being lead actors in action films that all did well overseas. We won’t even mention how well Black Panther did and there were several dark skinned Black women leads in that film too. It is time for Hollywood to piss or get off the pot and stop using this narrative that BIPOC don’t sell overseas when they have evidence to the contrary. I miss the 80s and 90s Black film movement. Spike Lee, John Singleton and Eddie Murphy brought my childhood and early adulthood to life. I am not sure what happened in the last 20 years in Black film specifically, but it would be nice to see more films that center BIPOC. We have definitely proven that we sell everywhere. If Hollywood is looking for evidence they’d need to look no further than Black Panther, Parasite, and Crazy Rich Asians. It would seem the world wants to see its diversity reflected in film and Hollywood’s excuse that BIPOC don’t sell overseas is just that, an excuse.

With that being said, I am glad Meagan is back in the game because she hasn’t been that active of late. If Not Now, When? seems like this generation’s Waiting to Exhale and I am here for it. I will definitely be forking over my coin to support Meagan in her directorial debut because it takes courage to create the art that you wish to see. I will not touch the religious stuff and celibacy because that is not my rodeo, but I’m glad it worked for her. I do hope If Not Now, When? is successful because I am tired of the pain and struggle porn that seems to be the majority of films that center Black people specifically. I agree with Meagan when she says that Black people don’t all have the same experiences or story. I’d like to see our diverse experiences in Hollywood’s Black narratives. I think it would take more Black artists getting behind the camera to make diverse stories a reality, but there is proof that it can be done. You can rent If Not Now, When on YouTube and Vudu, if you are interested. I have embedded the trailer below:

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17 Responses to “Meagan Good: I’ve often been told a Black female lead won’t sell overseas”

  1. Mercury says:

    Thanks for the link! I will he watching on youtube

  2. Yup, Me says:

    The fact of the matter is that ANYTHING can sell if there’s enough glamor and positive PR given to its success. A story about Black women can easily sell and do well if given a chance and a budget. I know Black folks are sick of struggle love and struggle life stories about us. And I’m heartily sick UNTO DEATH of white people slapping their names and faces all over every damn thing. If Hollywood can give us 399 films about white people “dancing”, we can get some films about Black women being gorgeous and loving life and traveling and being happy and free and whatever else.

    I’m ready for Black fantasy and Black witches and Black glamour and Black love and sci fi and anything else we can imagine and dream up.

  3. GuestwithCat says:

    Wow, just her experience of being a black woman in a sea of white people would be a fascinating story itself. I had something similar for awhile but my school and neighborhood diversified quickly and then became a sea of black people. It’s always fascinating to be one on the fringe. Sometimes it’s negative. Sometimes positive. But never dull.

  4. herhighness says:

    I SWORE TO GAAHD THAT WAS KIM K WIDDA TAN!

    I am a black woman& had to look twice. Looks like Meg got her brows re done. Good news the 1st brow tattoos from her early career were too harsh. Maybe less KIM K contouring will help.

  5. greenmonster says:

    I just watched a Behind the Scenes of Set it Off yesterday. I loved the movie when it came out and went to see it at least twice back in the day. I would love to watch it again but can’t find it on a streaming device ( here in Germany) and DVDs are crazy expensive.
    Also, Waiting to Exhale is an amazing movie. At least that one is on Amazon Prime.

    • Det20! says:

      Admittedly the Set It Off DVDs are not the cheapest, apparently there is no current German release, so it is mostly UK or US discs on sale. But you can find it for approx. 10 Euros. While this is not cheap for people who have to restrict entertainment purchases because money is tight, it is okay. You can always try to find bargains or used items online. Set It Off via Ebay is 15 to 20 Euros (some sellers accept offers, so it might be available for less). Also there is a triple Blu-ray with Set It Off, Menace II Society and Friday for approx. 18 Euros on Amazon, which means 6 Euros per film (fair price, no?).
      The general claim that DVDs are “crazy expensive” in Germany is simply wrong (I am a serious film collector and know the markets).

  6. Cj says:

    This last bit gives me such life because I’m a sci/fi fantasy writer and fan, and it makes me so sad when all the creations for fantasy seem to assume black people don’t want to see themselves as elves/mermaids/mythic goddesses… I want to look up and see ME in the fantasy, not feel I can’t take part because I’m too dark!

  7. Ctgirl says:

    When I saw the photo I really thought that Kim Kardashian was engaging in blackface. Again.

  8. Exactly says:

    Hollywood says ‘Black women don’t sell overseas’ because they don’t want Black women to succeed. Period. Then the ‘karens’ will have to make space for them and watch them succeed (because Black women are successful at anything they do, whether or not you give them a chance). Hollywood hasn’t wanted to share their success with Black/Brown people for years. You think it’s accidental that we have always been the maid/janitor/housekeeper/robber /murder/etc? We’ve been laughed at/judged/mocked/pushed down for years. We took the ten cents they gave us as they enjoyed their 90 cents and mansions. The tide is finally changing for the better but it’s going to be slow. Better late than never though, right? I guess.

  9. Ashley says:

    I work in the industry (think: producing) and this is something that we’re constantly discussing because she’s not wrong. When you read ‘overseas,’ we’re talking about one extremely large, vehemently racist (in both policies and social practice) country, and it ain’t in the Americas or Europe or Africa… Yes, Will Smith might get a pass but no one else will.

    As we change Hollywood, we have to consider where we’re getting our money, and how much that money means to the choices we make. We cannot be beholden to the lowest common denominator in terms of racism. But the reality is that studio pics (big budget) always take foreign investments right now.

    • Oya says:

      China is the market they are talking about but again Star Wars, Black Panther all did well there. And no one is asking for big budget items. Just a good movie that would do well in three out of four markets. Hollywood is more than happy to throw big money at movies with all white cast that flop. So… IDK sis..

      • Ashley says:

        I get it, but you’re talking about 2 major franchise movies, not the whole industry’s worth of films. Behind the scenes, we’re looking at 50% Chinese financing for most studio films, and 80-100% for action films, even though production and management remains in North America. Things have changed massively in the last 5 years. Hollywood has basically moved from one facet of racism to multiple facets, and is not equipped to face these issues head-on.

      • Oya says:

        @Ashley damn. That’s really bad…sigh – Netflix and Amazon it is. I am glad we have those services. Hopefully they will also get into the game of big budget film making.

  10. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    Given everything going on, I’m quite surprised Hollywood continues to put ‘pen to paper,’ with such antiquated sentiments. It proves they don’t want to lose 75 million treacherous heathens.

  11. Abbess Tansy says:

    Thank you so much for this! As a black woman who loves sci-fi, fantasy i want to see more BIPOC in these movies. I have so many ideas on what we can do its frustrating because of how little chances we are given.

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