“Young, Gifted & Black”. Powerful words from the Queen of soul Aretha Franklin to describe our very being as a people. It’s that self worth that was recognized at an early age by Playwright/Producer-Director David E. Talbert. I recently had the opportunity to talk with David briefly about his successful rise in the entertainment industry and his new feature film “Baggage Claim”, which hits theatres nationwide September 27th.
Your 14 nationally acclaimed productions garnered you a remarkable & unprecedented 24 NAACP awards and the 2005 Best playwright of the year for “Fabric of a Man”, which established you as a huge force in the industry. What kept you so driven and consistent during this time period?
The fear of really…not knowing what else to do man. It’s the only thing I can do. You know you have people that were born to do certain things. Michael Jordan was born to play in the NBA. Obama was born to be the President of the United States. I guess it’s just what I was born to do, because I wouldn’t know what else to do with myself.
What area in directing you personally feel you experienced the most growth from your 1st feature film “First Sunday” to your most current project “Baggage Claim”?
Ah man, a huge growth. The biggest thing was plays, which I’ve been doing for 20 years tells the story, while film shows the story. So I had to wrap myself around the words though they are important, equally important in feature film was pictures and images. I had to learn to fall in love with pictures as much as I’ve fallen in love with words for 20 years!
Between your plays and films, you’ve been blessed to work with major all-star talent. Why do you feel you’ve been so successful in that regard?
Well it goes back to this instance, the written material. I’ve always said if you write it, they will come, because a good performer just wants good material and good characters they can wrap themselves around. So I always spend a lot of attention and time on that script, because before it ever hits the stage or screen…it starts on the page.
Where does David E. Talbert fit in with other great filmmakers such as Bill Duke, Tyler Perry, Spike, TD Jakes, etc. Have you ever looked to any of these talented men for advice? Name 3 actors you would love to work with at this point?
Well…before I did my first film, I spent a lot of time with Bill Duke, who was one of my mentors. I was blessed to meet Spike Lee a couple of months ago and I’ve been a huge fan of his since I was in college. Spike has always been an inspiration because he’s a beast with that camera. I sat with Bill Duke and we had dinner and I said before I direct this movie, any advice? I thought he was going to talk about camera movement, lens selection, etc. Bill said “get in shape my brother”! “You need to be awake earlier and be able to stay up later than everybody on that set”. I started walking, going to the gym and eating right. It’s so true because as a Director, you’re the eye of the storm when everyone is trying to figure out what’s going on so you have to make sound decisions and be alert! As far as the 3 actors, #1 would be Denzel Washington who’s so iconic and such a big figure I’ve been such a fan of. #2 would be Robert Dinero and Samuel Jackson is a beast!