Will Smith Is No Fred Williamson

If it sounds absurd, it’s supposed to: screenwriter/actor/martial artist Michael Jai White blows up Black Dynamite.

TR: You have seven black belts and you act, what has been your biggest issue, as far as getting the action-hero roles?

MJW: Moviemaking is very corporate, and they go by formulas. There’s this belief that black films don’t do well overseas, which is an absolute fallacy. The response to Black Dynamite is far greater overseas than it is even in this country. We got a standing ovation at Karlovy Vary [International Film Festival] in the Czech Republic.

TR: What does Black Dynamite have to do in order for you to consider it a success?

MJW: It already has been. In my recollection, there’s never been an all-black movie that has gotten a standing ovation anywhere in Europe, much less all the fanfare this movie is garnering. This movie was under $3 million, so it’s already surpassed anything the studio would ever believe. The idea was to just get the money and do the movie we wanted to make because we never thought a studio would understand it first out. I understand how studios think, and I don’t fault them, but I knew a studio wouldn’t get it until it was a completed project.

TR: The blaxploitation era essentially was what people would call Black Hollywood today, which is a term some people dismiss.

MJW: I would agree with you. Black Hollywood kind of existed in the ‘70s. We had actors and actresses who were trained, represented us with dignity and had such an amazing amount of talent. It was revered to be strong and beautiful and smart, back then. I hope we can return to that. Tyler Perry is proof that there is a large audience that has not been cared for, so who’s caring about those people? Besides black Hollywood?

TR: What do you want people to take away from Black Dynamite?

MJW: I want people to have fun. I want it to take away from their problems. I want people to laugh. Take a ride you probably haven’t.

Jozen Cummings is the former articles editor at VIBE. He was on staff at King. He writes about his dating dramas at Until I Get Married.