Next year will mark the 20th anniversary of director Malcolm D. Lee’s first major film, The Best Man, which hit theaters in October 1999. Since then, he has directed multiple movies with predominately African-American casts, including this year’s Night School and last year’s blockbuster comedy smash, Girls Trip. But does he get the respect he deserves?

“There’s gotta be different language around describing movies. If it’s a romantic comedy that’s got all black people in it, still a romantic comedy,” Malcolm told The Root, “Urban means city to me. It’s plenty white people in urban areas too! So like why don’t they call those urban movies?”

Watch the full interview above with Lee where he discusses getting started with some support from his cousin, Spike Lee, breaking out of the “urban” label and why he chooses to focus on certain stories of African-American life.


The Root’s original video series, Color Creatives, is a biweekly digital show that will spotlight people of color who are pushing the bar in film, fashion and fine arts. For more episodes, you can subscribe on the Facebook Watch page as well as on YouTube.