Talk Back

A New Era of Black Entertainment

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With the recent critical success of “Selma” and the commercial successes of the animated feature “Home” starring a Black lead voiced by Rihanna, and TV series “Empire,” is Hollywood going to have to rethink its position on Black entertainment having limited appeal? I think so.

Is Hollywood’s sudden consideration of Black actors in film hero roles formerly played by white actors enough (Anthony Mackie possibly taking over the role of Captain America, Idris Elba maybe taking on the persona of James Bond)? I don’t think so.

I believe that wave will and should be helmed by Black creators. As a Black screenwriter and novelist, I am devoted to creating cross-media titles for a multicultural audience I feel is the more accurate depiction of America today than what is currently portrayed in books, TV and movies. To that end, I have created “SPOOK: Confessions of a Psychic Spy.”

Here is an excerpt from the book’s back cover:

“In 1961, during the hottest days of the Cold War, at the dawn of the Civil Rights Movement, in a time when the Superpowers are deploying psychic spies behind the Iron Curtain to engage in intrigue and espionage, the CIA discovers a man who just may be the most powerful remote viewer of them all: a Black prison convict named John. Although they hate him because of the color of his skin, although they fear him because of his unnatural abilities, the CIA secretly ‘baptizes’ John into the world of espionage. From Montgomery, Alabama to Istanbul, Turkey, from the Orient Express to Washington, D.C., from Marilyn Monroe’s final moments to the Cuban Missile Crisis countdown, John walks unseen through the annals of history, in its shadow.”

“Spook,” a novel about an African American remote viewer for the CIA during the Cold War and the dawn of the Civil Rights movement, is the first in a series of books that will take the character through the Kennedy assassinations, the shooting of Martin Luther King, the Birmingham riots, Vietnam and other grand historical events.

As an independent screenwriter in Los Angeles, I have struggled with the industry’s lack of interest in diversity in entertainment. According to the 2014 Hollywood Diversity Report, despite minorities making up more than 36 percent of the U.S. population, out of 172 movies only 11 percent of the films had a minority lead and more than half the films had casts that were 10 percent minority or less.

When I decided to finally write this novel – and several people in Hollywood advised me not to – I knew it was going to be controversial. I wanted a title that reflected the book’s nature. Spook, which is the slang term for a spy and the derogatory slang term for a Black person, was my intended double entendre. This isn’t just a spy thriller. It’s social commentary. The duality of the title is also reflective of the main character John, who ironically enjoys more freedoms in the European countries he is spying in, than in America where he has to sit in the back of the bus or eat at a diner with no restroom for Coloreds.

The relevance of the racial themes in “Spook” can be seen in headlines across America today where young Black men are being killed by law enforcement officials such as in the Michael Brown case in Ferguson.

I am promoting my novel to the African American community and shopping a screenplay adaptation to Hollywood, where I already have interest.