Romany Malco Wants Hollywood to See Black Films as Destined for More Than Just ‘Urban Distribution’

Malco sounded off on the state of Black cinema during a recent IndieWire live conversation.
Romany Malco
Romany Malco in "Tijuana Jackson"

Longtime actor and music producer Romany Malco is best known for his roles on “Weeds” and “A Million Little Things,” but he’s also a filmmaker in his own right with this year’s “Tijuana Jackson: Purpose Over Prison,” and has been a vocal advocate for Black visibility in media throughout his career. Malco recently spoke with IndieWire during an Instagram live conversation moderated by Executive Editor and Chief Film Critic Eric Kohn, where he touched on many of the issues he’s championed in Hollywood. That includes wanting studios to see Black movies relegated beyond mere “urban distribution,” as he put it, but he also expressed his optimism for the future of Black independent storytellers. Watch the full video conversation above.

“We’ve made some shifts,” Malco said during the interview in regards to Hollywood’s inclusiveness of Black stories. “But until we’re actually allowed to write our own stories, and have equity, meaning have ownership in the content, and ownership in its distribution, I’m not impressed. And so, I would say, yeah, there’s been a little bit of a shift. But, Hollywood’s got an antiquated [view] — real talk, Hollywood sees this as destined for one thing: urban distribution, because there’s a black lead, me and Regina Hall,” Malco said about “Tijuana Jackson: Purpose Over Prison.” The movie, written and directed by and starring Malco, centers on an ex-convict with aspirations of becoming a motivational speaker, was released by Cranked Up Films in July. (Here’s how to watch the film on VOD.)

“The tide is changing. The avenues are changing. And that’s why I’m saying to people, especially with independent film, if you’re an independent filmmaker and you have a story to tell, an authentic depiction of minorities, and you believe you can tell it better than anybody else, I believe this is your opportunity to get this story out there,” he said. “Hollywood is making an attempt to make that adjustment, but we’ve got a long way to go.”

Check out other IndieWire Live videos here. Other guests have included Rachel Morrison, Hannibal Buress, Elijah Wood, Guillermo del Toro, Danny Trejo, Eric Andre, Nicholas Britell, Julia Garner, Lulu Wang, Barry Jenkins, Diego Luna.

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