Oscar winner Cord Jefferson on hopes ‘American Fiction’ will change so-called Black movies

Disney/Scott Kirkland

First-time director Cord Jefferson was nominated for Best Director for his film American Fiction, and took home Sunday night’s trophy for Best Adapted Screenplay.

On stage, he mentioned how so many people passed on the movie, which pokes fun at an industry that commonly relies on offensive tropes repackaged as “Black” entertainment.

Backstage, Jefferson expressed he hopes the success of the film, based on Percival Everett‘s 2001 novel Erasure, changes that.

“A story with Black characters that’s going to appeal to a lot of people doesn’t need to take place on a plantation, doesn’t need to take place in the projects. Doesn’t need to have drug dealers in it, doesn’t need to have gang members in it,” Jefferson said.

He said American Fiction proves, “there’s an audience for different depictions of people’s lives, and that there is a market for depictions of Black life that are as broad and as deep as any other depictions of people’s lives.”

He also said he was “so grateful” for the movie’s five Oscar nominations, and how it had been embraced during awards season. “I was very passionate about this film. Everybody who worked on this film was very passionate about it,” Jefferson said.

“Nobody was there for the money because we didn’t have any money. So, people were there because they believed in it,” he continued. “And so, to be here now and to receive … this kind of response … it feels incredibly surreal.”


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