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Kevin Grevioux Has A Theory On The Lack Of Black Sci-Fi Filmmakers (Second Time Around)

Kevin Grevioux Has A Theory On The Lack Of Black Sci-Fi Filmmakers (Second Time Around)

So O.K. his I Frankenstein film, which opened this
weekend, won’t break any box office records. They all can’t be winners. But considering the film is now out and that we
have previously written about actor/ screenwriter/producer Kevin Grevioux several
times on this site, including just a few days ago in a recent interview with him by Michael Dennis
(HERE), I thought maybe it’s time to take a second look at a piece I wrote about him
back last fall.

There’s no need to tell you that there are many
African Americans involved in the comic book field as writers, illustrators and
just avid readers, but not enough in his point of view. Especially when it
comes to black filmmakers of sci-fi films; and Grevioux said that believed he
knew the reason why.

According to an interview he did with The Grio, Grevioux said that the lack of
black people creating sci-fi projects, comes from a pragmatism facing the
dreams of black youth… and depends on what fits within a frame of

As he went on to elaborate: When you’re white, your
dreams go far and a lot of times that is because there are no encumbrances. The
world is wide open to them in a way that isn’t open for us. So when their
reality is taken care of, it’s like, ‘Okay well we can dream about this. We can
do this. We can do that.’ For us, it’s a little different.

He went on to say: “It’s like how can you think
about traveling to another solar system or alien life if you have a problem
getting a job or eating on Earth. African-American dreams are more
reality-based, and that’s why I think our films have to do with our daily
environment more so than alien or science fiction environments.

He also added that: “A lot of science fiction is
based upon your experience in terms of looking at the world differently.
Thinking about it in more abstract ways, a lot of times that takes

O.K. I can see what he’s saying and definitely agree with
him, but I think there’s a lot more to it than that, which goes back to that
“box” I referred to which black filmmakers are put in.

I think peer pressure is also a huge burden to overcome.
I don’t need to tell you that, way too often, we allow our so-called friends,
colleagues and even family members to tell us what we should or should not be
doing, for fear of being shunned, ridiculed or, the greatest fear of all,
accused of “not being black enough.” Hell, I’ve been assured of that by
commenters on this site.

The fact is that you can’t let people with closed-off
minds dictate your life. They want you to live in their own closed-off, hermetically-sealed
little world, and be strangled creatively and spiritually. Why should you limit what you want to do, for them, and be miserable the rest of your life?
Follow your own path. If you love sci-fi or want to become a classical
musician, or whatever, just do it and be happy.

Do you agree, or is what Grevioux said ridiculous in your
opinion? Do you have anything to add?

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Our life IS science fiction. If you look at many sci fi plots, they are about people on earth being taken over and enslaved by an alien race. That already happened to us. I write sci-fi- about black people. People can’t handle it at times because it scares people. Hard to explain. But anyone wants to make my stuff into a film, I am ready. Have scripts and all.


I enjoyed ‘I, FRANKENSTEIN’. It never occured to me that the director was African-American. I remember a documentary on science fiction writers around the Earth. An Israeli writer had a good quote,’Tha Arabs have no science fiction, because they see no future.’
If any style of literature can make a vision and dialogue, the science fiction venue is as necessary as it is versatile.
Though, most screen adapted works in time get both dated and monotonous… you get those little jewels that stay in the memory forever. I’m personally excited Spike Lee bought the movie rights for the Ron Mallet book. I hope it does better than ‘FREQUENCY’ or ‘CONTACT’


One thing any honest observer of black american social commentary will notice is that it is almost always devoid of any meaningful self-reflection or self-criticism concerning the circumstances of their own race as a whole. Notice some of the statements: "If you are white your dreams go far" which directly implies that if you are black they don’t. The reason? Because if you are white (or probably more likely what is meant is ‘non-black’) then the world is automatically your oyster…for some reason – most likely because of ‘poverty’ and ‘oppression’ as stated in the quote. this sweeping generalization completely ignores the fact that there are a significant number of whites living in poverty here but i guess those uneducated poverty stricken whites still get to dream big even though they still end up working the checkout at walmart. But blacks..they can’t even dream big. News flash, your dreams are what you imagine. Many people dream big and never reach them; that is simply life.
Unfortunately, blacks occupy a special status in the USA. They simply cannot be criticized publicly by other races for fear of public shaming and being branded as ‘racist.’ Any critique no matter how well articulated is simply scandalized. Sadly, whites are the biggest culprits in this status quo – they will tear each other to pieces to ‘out’ another white as racist just so they can prove how ‘not racist’ they are.
In short blaming whites for not dreaming or not having the luxury to indulge in fantastical thoughts is simply ridiculous.


    Late to this article, but had to weigh in on this comment.”One thing any honest observer of black american social commentary will notice is that it is almost always devoid of any meaningful self-reflection or self-criticism concerning the circumstances of their own race as a whole.” Seriously? Going back to the poetry of Phyllis Wheatly, through the reflections of many slave narratives, through the musings of Frederick Douglass, to the DuBois and Washington debates, to the writers of the Harlem Renaissance, through James Baldwin, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., Stokely Carmichael, Huey Newton and Angela Davis, Alice Walker, bell hooks, as well as film makers including Oscar Micheaux, Melvin van Peebles, Spike Lee, and Ava du Vernay, black folks in this country have been absolutely driven by the desire to think critically about our own condition and circumstances. I cannot imagine anyone who had ever ventured into the fabric of black culture would even imagine making such a ridiculous claim. While it is certainly plausible to critique the substance of that reflection, to argue that it doesn’t exist represents evidence of someone whose head is stuck in the narrowly defined cultural canon that American institutions have given us – not to mention a part of their own anatomy better left unmentioned!


    Nick: Obviously, you’re a white person, because no black person would make a comment that ignorant, claiming that black people don’t examine themselves and their own problems in relation to American society. What you just said was so ignorant—black writers and black people in general have been examining ourselves,and how we are looked at by society literally since we were brought to this country in chains—we never had a choice not to. And to sit there and claim that the history of white people enslaving black people for the majority of this country’s history, and still continuing discrimination and disinfranchisement against black people for 100 years even after slavery ended—to pretend that didn’t have a huge (and negative) influence on how black poele hae been forced to see themselves in this country is just plain ignorance on yoyur part. You just want to let white peopel off the hook for how y’all have always treated us. You obviously haven’t read any current black writer and thinkers’ critical examinations of black Americans—you just want to push that whire conservative narrative that completely ignores how white people have shoved racism and white supremacy down black people’s throats for the majority of this country’s history. Sorry, but hell no, you can’t sit there and pretend as if white people had nothing to do with pushing the idea that black people are only supposed to be this or that–which mainly came from white people dominating everything, including the media,and ignoring our contributions to this country while white people take all the damn credit. You don’t know what the hell you’re talking about, like most of these self-serving racists who claim black people are their own wrose problems (as if white racism had nothing to do with it. You only wish it didn’t. That being said, I had no idea a brother directed I, FRANKENSTEIN—you learn something new every day.


      My bad—Grievioux wrote I, FRANKENSTEIN,he didn’t direct it-but he did write and produce the UNDERWORLD series—I didn’t know that either! I actually caught the first UNDERWORLD film on TV one night, and actually thought it was pretty good. And, yes, what he said about the limits placed on black people as far as their imaginations go is true. White people have always been allowed to go wherever their imaginations take them, because since they’re in the majority anyway, they rarely have anyone always telling them that they can’t like a certain type of music, certain kinds of movies, or even to like certain kinds of things (like sci-fi) because they’re white. Whereas, black people are used to being told that they can’t like this or that because they’re black, that only black people do this or that, and they are told this by both white and black people, even though your skin color has nothing to do with why you do or don’t like something—it’s all about what you’re bene exposed to and what culture you grew up in. The imagination has no color, period. And yeah, black sci-fi writers really don’t get pushed liek whtie male sci-fi writers always do. Hell, even whtie women had to fight to get taken seriously as sci-fi writers, and to prove that it wasn’t jsut a white male-dominated thing,too. I just started reading Octavia Butler’s Kindred recently, and thinking that if it never gets made into a movie, it could make a very interesting mini-series,due to the subject matter alone, like for Showtime, or Netflix or something.

Everest John Alexander

I think Kevin’s insights are valid and he makes a lot of sense! I think MalcolmX’s comment is worth considering as well.

Kipjo Ewers

There is no lack of black science-fiction writers, I am one. The problem is we’re trying to break through to the surface where we can be see, but we’re constantly being blocked and ignored. Unless you know someone who is willing to get your through, your most likely dead in the water. And that’s mainly due to the lack of support from our own black community. How sad is it that the only things outside of a regular 9 to 5 job that parents force their kids to strive of is if they want to get into sports or music. If the kid has a mean jump shot, a terror of the football field, or possibly the next Jay-Z then and only then do majority of African-American parents choose to back their kids. It’s unbelievable sad when clearly there is much more to strive for, and the sad thing is it’s not that hard support and back it. We can back movies a Tyler Perry movie, or the next the next "Think Like a Man" movie, anything that has to do with comedy and relationships, but we don’t back GOOD science fiction and superhero movies that depict us in a positive light for our children to aspire to something. How crazy is that? What is even sadder is that it is clear that our children are into superheroes and things science fiction. I’ve been to several comic cons, participated in a couple of NY Halloween parades, and almost every African American I have seen now a days is dressed up as a superhero! They’re superman, or batman, or wonder man, wolverine, or the flash! Costumes of iconic Caucasian superheroes that they can’t relate to. When do we take accountability for the growth of our children’s imagination and work to expand it? Here’s the answer, support African-American science fiction and super hero authors, screenplay writers, directors and producers. WE ARE OUT HERE!!!

Andrew Finch

I agree with what he said. Most black people do feel and think that way. That is why it is hard to find black people willing to play those roles. You can not make them play those roles are make something they do not beleive in or willing to step out and do what makes them truely happy because of peer pressure . The arguement should not be base on jow much money them film will make it is about doing what you love and have passionate about. Money should not limit your goals and dreams.


I'm going to end this convesation with this because by some of these comments it's some black people buying into that white hollywood narrative. You missing the whole point of what I'm saying if you got a track record of making a film franchise that made a ton or money or a hit movie that made a ton of money, it will be somebody out there that will invest in you to cash in. You pull your own card by saying it's a gamble to invest in black films, only a brainwashed black person believing in white supremacy or a racist white person would make a foolish comment like that. I believe in black investment and you don't. I don't make silly comments that black cast sci fi film can't make money. By the way Inside Man may of had a diverse cast but Miracle At St Anna had a mostly black cast and it didn't have any big stars in it, but he still got 45 million and that because of the sucess of Inside Man, it made 184 million worldwide, which is still a success, somebody with money was willing to invest in his next film. So just keep believing you are white people puppet that they can control your every movie and you can't do nothing without them.


One thing I constantly see in the comments about doing black sci fi films is the budgets, that's an excuse it has been a lot of great sci – fi films done on small budgets. My opinion it's more of black people believing the hype of what hollywood tells us we like and not making the sci -fi films, example notice both of Kevin Grevioux films there is white female lead in Underworld and a white male lead for I Frankenstein, but he is calling out the problem of blacks in sci -fi films but he doesn't believe it himself, to have a black lead in his stories. These black folks in hollywood are funny, they always taking about the problems but go and do the same thing white hollywood has been doing to black folks forever in films.


Also, there has been Black participation in science fiction for a while now, including literature, comic books, graphic novels, and screenplays.

Black writing in science fiction in other worlds and dimensions and realities is available and has been available for decades. We've made so many lists of Black writers in science fiction, its ridiculous to dismiss the lack of film realization as limited imagination. If ANY race dreamed that tomorrow must be better, another world must be better, etc, its Black people trapped by a limited reality.

The WILL TO GREENLIGHT the film production of these dreams of other worlds and other times is another matter entirely and points to systematic exclusion, discrimination, and willful disregard.

For instance, Octavia Butler's works–strong stuff since Samuel Delaney and Harlan Ellison were her mentors–have been under constant option since she wrote them. She collected the checks and never seemed to mind that they were produced.

But I always wondered about that. Not one. Not even ONE has been produced for film or television. I submit that rather than a straight-forward option, Butler's works are held hostage.


I Frankenstein was horrible. Within the first few minutes, I thought, it's gonna be a long night.

Within the first half-hour I was asleep. I woke up to a lot of banging and shouting onscreen. Fell asleep again. Woke up and this time, there was roaring and screaming.

Woke up again to credits.

The End.


Note to Kevin….If you're a poor white person, there are plenty of encumbrances to achieving your dreams, like lack of money.


There is scifi written by black people (I hate the term black scifi becuz its so confining) Grevioux himself is a testament to that the real question is why isn't there any scifi MOVIES with a majority or all black cast? And thats a question he has to answer working in the industry and having written a few scifi flicks (all white cast). So far the only person to make a black cast sci fi film is Will Smith. He also broke new ground with his son Jaden who is the FIRST black kid to star in a major hollywood scifi film. But look at what it took to make that happen…no less than the biggest most popular Black actor in the industry today. Meanwhile Neill Blomkamp (District 9, Elysium) was some unknown dude living in Canada shooting commercials and shorts, hooked up with Peter Jackson and now he's working on his 3rd big budget scifi flick. So the question is WHAT ARE THE ISSUES WITH PRODUCING A BLACK CAST SCIFI FILM? Why hasn't Hollywood produced any before Will Smith? Why the reluctance? There are many black scifi writers and books begging for big screen treatment but none on the slate at any of the studios. Theres no news of any of Octavia Butlers, Samuel R. Delany and many others whose works haven't been optioned. Why is that? I think Mr. Grevioux needs to speak on that.

Kyle Baker

There was a time when there were no Black basketball players. Don't worry about what other folks are doing. Do you


He is right. I never really thought of it that way. But looking back, I see it for myself. I, for one, come from a background of limited means but I never kept myself inside a box. As a storyteller, I always dreamed big and beyond my limitations. It was an escape from my unflattering reality. I was a fan of all the sci-fi's, action-adventures and fantasies. The only filmmaker I knew as a child was Spielberg and Lucas. I didn't care for all that reality stuff. Today, I have more diverse taste, which includes the most subtle reality based indie films. But I never forgot the films that fired my imagination as a child growing up in Brooklyn, NY when it was a really scary place. I'm trying to find a way to tell all stories, everything from the fantasy-action/adventures to the small indie films about people just trying to deal with their day-to-days. What do I mean I'm trying? I'm doing it now, as I type this. Look at my latest film Grey Dawn (2014). Talk about a film that couldn't be more far removed from the reality I am familiar with, and yet I went out and told that story anyway. I've been accused of being a hack by idiotic ignorant people but that couldn't be more far from the truth, case in point: my first feature film Pro-Black Sheep. I'm just passionate about telling good stories about people, usually ordinary people, in extraordinary circumstances. Genre and race don't matter.


I disagree with the statement that 'when you are white, your dreams go far….' What does race have to do with the imagination? Absolutely nothing. It's a cynical perspective that unfortunately some of us have internalized. It is not true that people of any race who are born into wealth or acquire enough wealth in their lifetimes that they will just relax and decide to use their imaginations in wild, interesting ways that serve humanity. Some often let their imaginations atrophy in between sips of fine wine on their expensive yachts just as much as someone stressed out over money may veg out in front of hours of reality TV when they both could be writing that highly imaginative award-winning Sci-Fi screenplay. ‘Education’ or ones particular race and class is not some secret society that holds the keys to our imaginations as we are led to believe. A decent, even excellent education can certainly help spark the imagination, it can also dim the imagination we once had, depending on who is doing the 'educating' and why. Education, these days especially, is more often than not about assimilation. In terms of black science fiction there would be no science fiction without the contributions, belief systems, dreams and visions of the African Diaspora throughout recorded and unrecorded history. So don't believe the hype.


If it really boiled down to "a dream deferred" because of poverty/racism, why aren't other film industries doing sci-fi? Bollywood isn't encumbered by race (colorism definitely), so where are the Indian sci-fi films? Other than Will Smith's upcoming movie, M. Night Shamalyn (sp?) hasn't explored that genre either. What about Nollywood…why aren't they writing and making those films when race isn't a factor?

Because everything we choose to do opposite whites doesn't always come down to restriction; it's simply a matter of preference. If you look at the 100 yr history of Hollywood, what percentage of films are sci-fi? Not a lot. So why would AAs, who have less power, have equal number ? Doesn't even make sense.


I'm going to add to what Kevin Grevioux and also Sergio have stated. You're never too old to pursue and keep pursuing your dream. And these days, self-publishing and building an audience can help a budding filmmaker purchase much needed film equipment. If anyone's interested, brief scifi excerpts featuring diverse world building can be found here:


He makes some good points but I think the real problem is black filmmakers get hoodwinked into not stepping out of the hollywood box of black films and telling other stories because they believe they hype that black people don't like sci – fi films or see themselves like that or the ones that don't believe in the hype can't get the investors or enough actors to support their vision to make the sci -fi films. I seen it happen too many times for a black filmmaker to make this happen he got to get a co -sign by a white person to tell a different black story to get the support, that's some bs we got to start investing in ourselves more and telling different stories and stop believing the hype.

Melody Cooper

I agree with some of the comments in the article, namely that lack of education can be a hindrance and so can peer pressure. I am a black female sci fi writer who just signed with a great literary agent who supports me in the genre and has gotten my work in front of the right people (including HBO and Kerry Washington). I consider my experience "different" than many black folks in that I grew up with an English teacher mom and a Science teacher dad, and we read hard science fiction in my house: Asimov, Pohl, Clarke. We were taught black history outside of the school's limited curriculum. We went camping every summer (!) and had a deep understanding of nature and its beauty. My brother went to Harvard and later worked as a writer for Marvel, and I went to a liberal arts college, Adelphi, to study theater, had a stage career and now write for stage, film and TV. Our imaginations were encouraged, "the multi universe is the limit." I am inspired by Octavia Butler and have always always believed that our history, stories and struggles and those of other minorities, create more interesting science fiction. My goal is to keep writing and taking meetings until black sci fi is just part of sci fi in general in every medium: books, comics, TV, film, even theater (don't see much sci fi there, and yes, I have a sci fi play under consideration!) To do this, the black sci fi movement needs to include WOMEN. I'll say it again: it needs to include women! AND our youth, all classes, gay, straight, etc. We must be inclusive to break through stereotypes that we set even for ourselves to embrace the fullness of all that we have to offer. Some of the best sci fi is not big budget (MOON, ANOTHER EARTH, MONSTERS, ATTACK THE BLOCK, PRIMER) but they have great stories, ideas, characters and vision. There's no reason why black sci fi can't bring that, and then some.

Chris Boykin

I agree with him in that there are obstacles, but, come on man, I know that already. There's always gonna be naysayers and a lack of resources and access, in any community. So what? Year after year, Oscar after Oscar, Golden Globe after Golden Globe, [insert award show here] it's the same damn story: no representation, no recognition. How can I still be so surprised that certain ethnic groups are marginalized and oftentimes have their work go unacknowledged in this business? I get it. So what? Does that mean I can't have a career in this business? Does that mean that I shouldn't even try to have one? Because if it doesn't mean that, what is the annual whine fest, or blog post, or op-ed piece about, really? Keeping the issue relevant? …you mean the issue that everybody in this business already knows and acknowledges? Cos, here's the deal: Grevioux's films may not do boffo box office, but he still makes enough dough to keep making 'em. They still make somebody money. He is the creator of the Underworld franchise and the unofficial poster manchild for the school of thought that says, 'of COURSE there's obstacles. So what?'


Most Sci-Fi movies are not low budget. It takes a truly staggering concept to do a successful low budget Sci- Fi. Mass audiences for Sci- Fi prefer spectacle to ideas. Plus, it's a genre that doesn't often deliver on the budget/returns ratio until years later – if the film becomes cult or classic. Also, a lot of true Sci-Fi concepts – as opposed to Fantasy – are purely intellectual concepts that serve literature and lack cinematic qualities. So, all-in-all it's a hard sell for investors and it's hard enough to make films anyway so I guess black filmmakers just naturally shy away from Sci-Fi because it's a tough genre.

Just Mark

I agree with Mr. Grevioux in some aspects but there are certainly many black sci fi writers who have made tremendous contributions to the genre such as Octavia Butler and the previously mentioned Samuel R. Delaney. As an aspiring film producer who seeks out films dealing with science fiction themes, I feel the key would be independent artists ( ie. directors, producers & writers) banding together to bring these stories to light.


Harlem born, Bronx educated, writer, educator, Science Fiction Elder: Samuel R. Delaney
Any of his books can be made into film, WEB series, Audio Drama, Stage Plays…whatever.


There are no lack of black sci-fi writers, or any black intellectual in any field. What there is is a hyper-preponderance and an hyper-aggressiveness to how far white people (and their many black minions) will go to down-play or sweep under the rug black science, intellectualism and achievements in any field. A gifted black science writer, will find it hard to achieve success in this environment, especially if they did not pay into the college money system. Big Banks are tied to Big Education, Big Education is tied to Big Foundations, which is tied to Big Grants, Big Grants are tied to Big Film Festivals, which will tell you what filmmakers should be on your radar. Don't be hoodwinked…


@Sergio Wow!! Reading This Article has Been an Eye Opening Experience for Me. (Especially as an Aspiring Filmmaker who just happens to be Black) Thank You for Sharing your Wisdom.


As an African American, I have always enjoyed science fiction books, movies, and even radio. And I disagree with his assessment. As an African American, I believe my community fantasizes and dreams bigger than most to escape reality… See Octavia Butler.

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