Michael Ealy, Sanaa Lathan, Morris Chestnut Debate Diversity at ‘The Perfect Guy’ Premiere

Sanaa Lathan, Morris Chestnut and Michael Ealy hit the red carpet at the Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills on Wednesday for the world premiere of “The Perfect Guy.”

David M. Rosenthal directed the sexy psycho-thriller penned by Tyger Williams, the scribe behind “Menace II Society.” Although “The Perfect Guy” features three African American leads, Rosenthal said that he identified the cast as professionally-trained actors first.

“I don’t think any of us thought about race when we did this,” Rosenthal told Variety. “I think we were just making a movie and it was just about people in a place and relationships. It was refreshing to not put it in that context and not put a label on it. The studios wanted to do that and the actors wanted to do that, and ultimately, it sells.”

The film follows a woman (Lathan) who is stalked by an ex-boyfriend (Ealy), while a former lover (Chestnut) fights to protect her. Rosenthal and Williams expect the story to reach all audiences, given its universal theme of dating in a technological age.

“I don’t think that there is such thing as a perfect guy or girl,” Williams said. “In the modern age, I think we need to get to know each other as best as we possibly can.”

Lathan was quoted in the Huffington Post earlier in the week voicing her thoughts on Hollywood’s racial disparity.

“I think the language needs to change, the language about ‘Oh, this is an Urban film or this is a niche film.’ No, these are Hollywood films. And it’s to marginalize us because it’s like some kind of a freak thing that we’ve made all this money off this movie. That’s a problem for me,” she was quoted as saying.

Lathan elaborated on the red carpet by telling Variety that the film will have wide appeal. “The more diverse movies that make money, (the more) they will start making. That’s the marker of success,” she said.

Her co-star Ealy said that he hopes for “The Perfect Guy” to see the same box office numbers as his “Think Like a Man” sequel, which drew a wide audience last summer. But, he said, the two projects are incomparable given their difference in genre.

“It’s tough because it’s hard to compare a thriller to a comedy,” said Ealy. “I think ultimately we have to see where the chips fall. There’s no telling, but I do think the audience will come out.”

Holt McCallany, who plays a detective in the film, has seen evidence of Hollywood’s growing diversification.

“It seems like things are changing. As I was driving from the airport, I saw a big billboard with my co-star Morris Chestnut, who’s gotten his own series on Fox,” McCallany said.

TV has been rewarded for its recent strides in diversity in awards shows and its upcoming program schedule. However, the small screen has been viewed as miles ahead of the film industry when it comes to showcasing diverse talent.

Chestnut recalled his lengthy career in the movie business — including his standout performance in “Boyz n the Hood,” co-starring Ice Cube — when noting a change in how film diversity is marketed. While his former co-star from the classic film about urban life dominates the box office with “Straight Outta Compton,” Chestnut ultimately believes that color really doesn’t matter.

“I think the bottom line with the film industry is, really, it’s not black or white; it’s green. Whatever is making money they are going to produce, (and) whatever people are coming to see they are going to produce more of,” Chestnut said.

He added, “I think as long as you’re doing something successful, Hollywood is going to listen.”

The celebration continued with the after-party at 1OAK on Sunset Boulevard. Celebrity guests who attended the event included Russell Simmons, Bill Bellamy, Nia Long and Regina Hall.

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