They've Gotta Have Us - David Oyelowo

The history of Hollywood has been chronicled endlessly in various kinds of feature and television documentaries. But Ava DuVernay‘s film collective ARRAY is getting a little more specific with a new documentary series called They’ve Gotta Have Us, focusing on art, activism and race as it pertains to black cinema in Hollywood. The series features an assembly of some of the most influential black actors, actresses, writers and directors over the years, all talking about the evolution of black cinema and its major milestones. See some of them in the They’ve Gotta Have Us trailer below.

They’ve Gotta Have Us Trailer

Photographer Simon Frederick is behind the camera for They’ve Gotta Have Us, a three-part documentary series available on Netflix this week. Interviews Frederick conducted include directors like Barry Jenkins, Boots Riley and the late John Singleton, actors like Laurence Fishburne, Whoopi Goldberg, Harry Belafonte, Nathalie Emanuel, Don Cheadle, John Boyega, David Oyelowo, and more.

ARRAY President Tilane Jones said in a statement, “As a company whose mission is to amplify voices of people of color, They’ve Gotta Have Us speaks directly to our highest ideas of inclusion, cultural context and community. Not only are we introducing an exciting artist like Simon Frederick to a new audience, but his project shares the stories of Black Cinema’s most influential filmmakers and actors.”

Chronicling the rise of black talents in Hollywood has never been done so extensively before. The documentary looks to address the humble beginnings of their presence in an industry long-dominated by white stories and filmmakers, back when black people were relegated to the roles of background thugs, criminal antagonists, or slaves in Oscar-hungry dramas. Thankfully, that narrative is changing, albeit a little slower than many have hoped, and with a maddening amount of resistance from those who refuse to evolve with the times. More and more black actors, actresses and filmmakers are getting the time in the spotlight that they rightfully deserve (even if it sometimes gets overshadowed by a big gaffe), and their stories will inspire new generations of storytellers to keep expanding their presence on the big screen.

THEY’VE GOTTA HAVE US is a dynamic chronicle of art, activism and race in Black Cinema featuring in-depth interviews with some of Hollywood’s most iconic voices.  Three generations of filmmakers and stars are among those who reveal their heartfelt and unfiltered stories guided by Photographer and Filmmaker Simon Frederick.

They’ve Gotta Have Us arrives on Netflix on February 5, 2020.

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