February 14, 2017 | D&L
Tomorrow night sees the highly anticipated episode of Star air in the US, so what better time to check in with the creator of the hit FOX show?
We caught up with creator of Empire and Star, Lee Daniels, and featured actor, Tyrese Gibson, to discuss pressing topics such as the transgender storyline Lee is addressing in the show this week; something which Tyrese states, there is currently nothing like on the air today.
“We have this transgender woman on the show being played by Amiyah and we come to find she actually went through this in real life,” Tyrese said.
Being a huge advocate for people living their lives in a way that makes them happy, Tyrese admitted he’s all for people living their truth and although the striking scenes were uncomfortable to film at times (due to the actions of the pastor whom he plays), ultimately he’s glad he was a part of such a moment. With Star being the first television show he’s worked on without appearing as himself, Tyrese was definitely challenged.
“If you live your life in people’s opinions, it’s the beginning of the end,” he said. “It’s going to be uncomfortable for people to watch [but will also evoke] empathy and heart for a world people don’t know or think about.”
For those who haven’t seen the show, Tyrese plays a man of God, who mentors and supports a mother, Carlotta Brown played by Queen Latifah. After spending time together, they naturally develop feelings for each other, but although he openly shares everything with her, Carlotta keeps secrets and avoids the Pastor coming into her world. As the audience learns, Cotton, Carlotta’s daughter is in fact transgender and used to be a male.
“This is that defining moment that we as African Americans don’t address and don’t want to talk about,” said Lee, as he admits, he didn’t know if people were ready for this. Having already tackled subjects such as sexual abuse in hit movie, Precious, and the backlash experienced with homosexuality (the trash can scene with Jamal in Empire), Lee continues to capture such moments that we may hear about, but never see.
Never one to shy away from hard hitting situations that need to be addressed and living life as an openly gay man himself, Lee’s decision to involve the Church in the Star storyline stemmed from his own experiences in the Church. “I’m not going to feel embarrassed or ashamed. I want people to understand that we all have a voice,” Lee explained.
“Star is a white female in the centre of a black community, her sister is half black and identifies as being black, her best friend is black and her best friend is transgender. I made a point to up it one and throw a curveball with different situations.
“Each week we have something that’s coming at you. We’re telling the story of unity and sisterhood through music, [against the] backdrop of politics that are going on in America today.”
“Trump’s intentions are to divide. [We want to] bridge the gap of understanding,” Tyrese added.
A lifetime away from the glitz and glamour of Empire, Lee loves that both shows are different, however still represent the same heartbeat, in turn reflecting him as a creator.
“It’s my soul,” said Lee. “I hope you enjoy it. This show means everything to me.”
So having touched on so many subjects in his career, is there anything left that this film and television producer and director would like to address? He goes on to list young black love that is not jaded, the light skin v dark skin issue and good hair v bad hair as his top three. “The stuff we don’t talk about, that we all know exists.” Watch this space…
US audiences can tune in to the powerful and controversial episode of Star tomorrow at 9pm EST on Fox TV.
In the meantime, listen in on Tyrese’s interview with The Breakfast Club here and check out your preview to tomorrow’s episode here.
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