In honor of Black History month, Variety asked actors, directors and composers of Hollywood what seminal black films inspired them as artists.
“Black Panther” star Lupita Nyong’o chose Oprah Winfrey and Whoopi Goldberg’s “The Color Purple.”
“It was one of the first films I watched where a woman had my complexion and my hair texture,” says Nyong’o. “That was deeply, deeply moving and influential.” Not only was Steven Spielberg’s “The Color Purple” empowering for Nyong’o but it also helped encourage her to follow her dreams into acting, “Possibilities are born when you see yourself reflected.”
Oscar-nominated director and writer for “Get Out” Jordan Peele named the 1989 film “Glory,” starring Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman. “All the performances were great it in,” says Peele. “But that was one where it felt like the black performers—even though they were the supporting characters in that movie and [were] looked at as supporting characters in the country—were lead roles,” Peel said. “These were the protagonists of their own destiny.”
“It’s the first time I saw my experience on screen and it was really profound,” Kaluuya explains. And adds that seeing the actor use his accent showed Kaluuya that his British roots wouldn’t prevent him from becoming an performer.
When the question was posed to “Black Panther” star Chadwick Boseman, he said there were too many and decided on both Charles Burnett film “Killer of Sheep” and Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing,” exclaiming, “I can’t pick one. Are you crazy right now?”
Following Boseman’s lead, Coogler couldn’t narrow his pick down to one option. “Two movies when I was way too young to see them,” says Coogler. “One was ‘Boyz n the Hood’ another one was ‘Malcom X.’ Both made by incredible directors who I know now crazy enough.”
Coogler recalled watching the movies on his father’s lap, not fully understanding the films, but being moved by Denzel Washington’s performance and relayed those feelings to current filmmakers in the industry. “You look at what Ava [DuVernay] makes and what Jordan [Peele] just made and what Dee [Rees] makes,” says the director. “There’s no shortage of it. I just can’t wait to see what they make next.”
The Oscar-nominated, “Mudbound” songwriter Raphael Saadiq, whose long music career includes the recent hit “100 Yard Dash,” revealed that it was Donny Hathaway’s work on “Come Back, Charleston Blue” that inspired him to, “start putting music to film.”