Director and writer Shaka King is busy in the TV-and-film industry at the moment, but that wasn’t always the case.
“It took a while, but once I started getting the work, it kept coming in. For a while I wasn’t getting shit, but ‘Mulignans’ really did a lot for my career,” says King, who hails from Brooklyn, N.Y.’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. “Even more than Newlyweeds, to be honest.”
“Mulignans”—referring to a derogatory Italian slang term for black people—is the title of his satirical short film that debuted at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. Newlyweeds, the story of a couple who love to toke up, was King’s breakout film in 2013. It was released nationwide and earned a Spirit Award nomination. He’s currently working on shows for HBO and TBS.
Naturally, King’s films usually feature a predominantly African-American cast who don’t play to the film clichés we are used to seeing. When asked if he feels the pressure to create more political content in the present climate of activism, he responds: “I feel like the climate is just catching up to my brain. I’ve been thinking like that, and my perspective works its way into anything I do. It may not always seem obvious, like in ‘Mulignans’ or my latest project, but if you look closely, there are things being said in it.”
His latest independent project, “LaZercism,” features Lakeith Stanfield (Atlanta, Get Out). It’s a comedy short that explores “racial glaucoma,” a disease affecting white people’s inability to see people of color and their contributions.