‘Guerrilla’ drama creator defends characters’ ethnicity

'Guerrilla' drama creator defends characters' ethnicity

LOS ANGELES — John Ridley said he expected his “politically sharp” TV miniseries “Guerrilla,” about England’s 1970s black power movement, to be provocative.

But criticism that the drama excludes the role played by black female activists took him by surprise at a screening in London, he said Monday.

He pointed to his track record of writing for black actresses in projects including TV’s “American Crime” (Regina King) and “12 Years a Slave” (Lupita Nyong’o, Quvenzhane Wallis), among others.

Given that, he said, it was odd to hear that people “feel as though I’m not putting enough women of colour in spaces.”

“I would say very sincerely to anybody, if they find fault with what I’m doing or how I’m doing it, you don’t need to wait for me to tell your stories,” Ridley said. “You don’t need anybody’s permission to go out and tell the story you want to tell.”

At last week’s screening, Ridley was questioned by some audience members about the project’s approach. “Guerrilla,” debuting April 16 on Showtime, stars Indian actress Freida Pinto and black British actor Babou Ceesay as an activist couple.

One questioner said the writers were responsible for the “erasure” of black women from the story, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Ridley reportedly grew emotional in trying to explain his decisions to the audience, at one point invoking his own interracial marriage. But he spoke calmly and carefully as he addressed the issue from the distance of several days.

The reaction to Pinto’s Jas and Ceesay’s Marcus “is actually part of the story we’re telling,” he said. “It’s as old as ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ ‘West Side Story’ … nobody can see their love the way they do.”

The African-American writer, director and producer stands by the authenticity of “Guerrilla,” which he said involved a “learning tour” to meet participants and observers of the British civil rights struggle.

Because “a lot of these stories have not been taught, have not been told,” it may frustrate those who want a single project to make up the lost ground, said Ridley, who won an Oscar in 2014 for his adapted screenplay of “12 Years a Slave.”

“I’m all for people looking at anybody’s story and saying, ‘Hey, that’s only part of the picture. I want to go out and tell more and do more and say more,’ ” Ridley said.

___

Lynn Elber can be reached at lelber@ap.org and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/lynnelber.

Lynn Elber, The Associated Press

Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Morning Start: Night Owls Tend to Be Smarter Than Early Birds

Your morning start for Monday, Sept. 21, 2020

Ear-to-ear smiles for Kelowna woman’s 75th birthday surprise

Helen Bellinger’s early 75th birthday celebrations involved a cluster of bright yellow smiley-face balloons

Cops For Kids ride wraps in Okanagan

No pomp, no circumstance for end of milestone 20th anniversary fundraising bicycle trip

Quirky Canadian comedy ‘Schitt’s Creek’ takes Emmys by storm with comedy sweep

Toronto-raised Daniel Levy and Ottawa-born Annie Murphy both got supporting actor nods

B.C. unveils new cannabis sales programs to help small, Indigenous growers

Government did not say how it will define small producers, but says nurseries will be included in the policy

B.C. transportation minister will not seek re-election

Claire Trevena has held the position since 2017

Young B.C. cancer survivor rides 105-km with Terry Fox’s brother

Jacob Bredenhof and Darrell Fox’s cycling trek raises almost $90,000 for cancer research

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. migrant, undocumented workers rally for permanent residency program

Rally is part of the Amnesty for Undocumented Workers Campaign led by the Migrant Workers Centre

Preparations underway for pandemic election in Saskatchewan and maybe B.C.

Administrators in B.C. and around the country are also looking to expand voting by mail during the pandemic

Okanagan company backs Orange Shirt Day contest

Vernon-based Tolko Industries sponsors art contest open to kids from kindergarten to Grade 12

Nearly 20 per cent of COVID-19 infections among health-care workers by late July

WHO acknowledged the possibility that COVID-19 might be spread in the air under certain conditions

Most Read