Producer Keenan Ivory Wayans is an honoree at this year's American Black Film Festival in Miami, and he took some time out to talk to The Root about his family business: TV and film.
The Root: What's happened to black film since the heyday of the 1990s?
Keenen Ivory Wayans: What we have seen since that time is a shift in our business. People have to understand that race plays one part, but economics dictates what we see happening in the film industry even more than race. Right now the business is in a restructuring. The DVD market, because of technology, is gone, and that was a huge source of revenue for those movies. Also, we are now in a global economy, so it is on filmmakers to make films that can translate around the world. That's another step that we need to take in terms of our storytelling.
A lot of this is being driven by this financial restructuring, but as an artist you can't worry about that. Because what never changes is that there is always an audience waiting to see movies. So you let them figure out the business side of it, and the creatives need to keep creating.
TR: What's your favorite black movie?
KIW: A lot of my favorite films are comedies that inspired me. So everything with Richard Pryor. I don't care what he did, I saw it. And I loved Beverly Hills Cop.
TR: What are you working on right now?
KIW: We just produced a series for my sister Kim that we are taking out to market. It's called Growning Up Wayans, and basically it is our family growing up. My sister is going to play my mom. I also have a film that I hope to shoot in the fall. We have another show that we will be doing on MTV, and my nephew just sold a show to BET. We are heavily focused on TV, but we are doing movies as well.
TR: Where do you fall on the Spike Lee versus Tyler Perry debate about black films?
KIW: I'm not totally familiar with that, but I don't feel any "beef" is productive. We all need to embrace each other and celebrate each other. Spike has his great accomplishments, and Tyler has his great accomplishments. We just need to allow each other to be different and speak to the different audiences that each of us speak to.
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