Film Director Gina Prince-Blythewood has been around long enough to understand the rigorous nature of Hollywood. Despite being responsible for 2000’s cult hit Love and Basketball starring Omar Epps and Sanaa Lathan, Prince-Blythewood still has to fight for the right to tell the kind of stories that inspire and potentially transform lives.

Her latest offering, Beyond the Lights, almost didn’t see the light of day, due to push back from the studio who wanted certain adjustments made to the leading man. The film, which stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Noni, as a bi-racial pop star is a love story set against the background of complex relationships and the fight for mental and emotional survival in a world wrought with inconsistencies. Prince-Blythwood was told that she had to get a white actor to play opposite the character of Noni in order to get the greenlight. But the passionate filmmaker refused to give in and insisted on her choice of Nate Parker. The gamble paid off but it was also a draining process that reminded her why Beyond the Lights was such an important film to make.

Price-Blythewood confesses that the reason why she doesn’t work consistently has nothing to do with lack of opportunity or script offers. She gets her fair amount of pitches but they are not the kinds of stories she wants to tell. She is drawn more to the tales that highlight people of color, particularly women. And because of that preference, she has to accept the reality that comes with focusing on minority stories. Movies like that don’t typically get executives excited and usually requires a long waiting period, which explains why it took her latest gem five years to make.

But Prince-blythewood is not discouraged, and those are the life lessons she hopes audiences will get from her new film. Noni, the beautiful singer, who seems to have it all is struggling to find out who she is amidst all the craziness including a domineering mother who she is constantly butting heads with. She finds love with a man who unexpectedly comes into her life but she still needs to authenticate her truest self.

Prince-Blythewood also battles similar issues as a player in an industry that constantly tries to stifle her ability to produce films that feature black actors as the main characters. Through it all she refuses to be silenced, and instead strives to continue her quest to give a voice to the people who always seem to be overlooked.

Her dedication comes at a price but Prince-Blythewood and are her producing partner, Reggie Blythewood are unfazed and look forward to the challenge.

Beyond the Lights opens nationwide on November 14.

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  • paintgurl40

    It sounds like an interesting movie…I’ll watch it.

    • Brad

      Just came back from seeing the movie and it was very good. The wife and I loved it and as I said she plays a bi-racial character in the movie.

      Minnie Driver plays her mother through out the movie. It isn’t about another bi-racial woman, stealing roles from “full black” women. No more than the movie “Belle” was about that staring the same actress.

      I am glad I trusted Gina Prince-Bythewood story telling skills she has not failed me yet.

    • blogdiz

      Hey Brad was just seeing on some other forums that the trailer really doesn’t do the movie justice as it just looks like some pop star VH1 type movie off the week but the storyline has much more depth and nuance
      NB: A BM taking his Black wife to the movies who says black love doesn’t exist …LOL

    • Brad

      You are so right the trailer totally did not to justice to this movie. Hopefully word of mouth helps with that. Because a lot of people are not going to do like me and just go see it because they know they can depend on Gina making a good movie and being a great story teller.

      Yea and NB took his wife to a private screening of the movie. Supposedly she cried because of how real and passionate the love scenes between him Gugu were. Made her feel almost as if he was cheating on her I guess.

    • paintgurl40

      I totally understand the whole issue of getting biracial women to replace black women. I just wanted to see the movie since I saw the trailer on the BET awards. Gina Prince Bythewood directed “The Secret Life of Bees” and I thought that was a good movie. I’m glad this one is good as well.

  • Child Please

    I can tell who saw the film and who didn’t based on these comments. I get it, you want to see more black women on the screen…I do, too, but I’m not going to deny biracial women their blackness because of it. Hell, we have a black women within media who deny their blackness all the time, so why would I or anyone else cast away someone who fully embraces their blackness. For all the concern about biracials taking over films, I wonder what movies did some of you support within the last year that featured black women – because there were a few with them in there as leads or in very good supporting roles.

    I also have to wonder if a black woman had been cast in the film, whether or not this conversation would turn into why does she have to be gyrating and shaking ass, we see enough of that. Let’s be real, that would’ve most definitely happened and we would’ve discussed the racial implications behind it.

    It seems it’s a lose-lose either way.

    My verdict: go see the damn film! It’s a griping tale of how one can lose themselves in an industry built on aesthetics and falsehoods, but can find redemption in seemingly the most infantile of situations.

    • blogdiz

      I’m one of those person who looks forward to supporting the film mainly because I’m partial to Gina’s work and she wrote the characters biracial background into the story rather than pass her off as the daughter of two brown people (Cosby style )
      That being said doesn’t mean I cant understand where some of the other posters are coming from (colorism/biracial) preference is real , pervasive and frustrating its been over 70 years since Lena Horne came out in Stormy Weather and we are still doing …well at least she kinna black thing
      A lot of BW have made a decision not to continue to support their continued erasure in the media landscape and even though I don’t feel personally that it applies in this instance I can respect their position.