'Red Tails' Stars Terrance Howard and Cuba Gooding Demand Support
Both decry the lack of Hollywood backing for black movies
At a screening for the Tuskegee Airman movie "Red Tails," about African Americans who during World War II broke through barriers against black pilots and helped bring about the end of military segregation, Oscar-award winning actors Terrence Howard and Cuba Gooding, Jr. ripped into the American film industry for systematically devaluing black actors and filmmakers.
“Hollywood, for a number of years has maintained the status quo by saying black films do not have an international value,” Howard said at a Congressional Black Caucus event promoting the movie. “Therefore we’re able to pay black actors less, we can give them less money to make their films ... If this film is not successful, it will become a stumbling block for all time where they can say that black films do not have value or merit…if George Lucas [who produced the movie] does not profit from this, then the rest of the industry will see no profit in black people.”
Howard said that Lucas, who made his fortune from the "Star Wars" franchise, and who wrote the script for "Red Tails" years ago, financed the $30 million production and distribution of the movie himself after he’d been turned down by major studios. Howard compared Lucas to Noel Parrish, the Air Force Brigadeer General who championed and commanded the Tuskegee Airmen, saying Lucas “put his entire career on the line.”
Cuba Gooding Jr., of "Boyz n The Hood" fame, who also stars in "Red Tails" was equally blunt.
“There aren’t many examples of filmmakers who get their product to the screen with the support of the system,” Gooding said. He said then when Lucas was asked about the studio system’s support for Tyler Perry, Lucas said “you have to understand that Tyler Perry took his own money…then when his movies were hits, the studios said they didn’t know how to market them. So they had to go outside the studio system ...The studio system is what it is, run by people who are afraid ... Until they come out of that fear, we have to thank our lucky stars for these men who see this as an opportunity.”
But he warned against finding and promoting a single successful project or director and thinking the fight to diversify Hollywood is over. Instead, Gooding said that sometimes, like with the election of President Obama, the reaction is “we’ve done this, now we can really let our racism show. Like with Spike Lee, this black director, now that we have him, we don’t have to look anymore. We’ve got one.”