First Look: The Filmed Reading of George M. Johnson's All Boys Aren't Blue Is a Coming-of-Age in Three Acts

Illustration for article titled First Look: The Filmed Reading of George M. Johnson's All Boys Aren't Blue Is a Coming-of-Age in Three Acts
Screenshot: iN-Hale MEGA VEE (YouTube)

A familiar voice opens the trailer for the filmed reading of George M. Johnson’s All Boys Aren’t Blue. It’s the “Mother of Black Hollywood” Jenifer Lewis—in this case, portraying Johnson’s beloved grandmother and part-time guardian, better known to readers of the bestselling book as “Nanny.”


Like Nanny, Lewis’ presence looms large, but it’s the actors who take center stage in bringing this first iteration of Johnson’s “memoir-manifesto” to the screen in tandem with National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD) on Monday, Feb. 8. Directed by award-winning director-producer Nathan Hale Williams, actors Dyllón Burnside (Pose), Bernard David Jones (Uncorked) and Thomas Hobson (Sherman’s Showcase) embody Johnson at various points in their coming-of-age story, from pivotal childhood trauma to an acceptance of self and a new chosen family as a college student.

“It was time for me to define me,” Hobson proclaims, performing Johnson’s intimate prose.

Self-definition is at the core of Johnson’s story, one that has made an impact upon countless others since the publication of All Boys Aren’t Blue last spring.

“I knew I wanted to create something that would stand the test of time and be here as a guide for so many who have come and who have gone whose stories have just never been seen in the world,” Johnson told us upon the book’s release, and with a series also in development by Gabrielle Union’s production company and several more books on the way, they are fulfilling their mission to create a safe space to center the Black nonbinary identity, in childhood and well beyond.

“My Blackness is everything because I believe that Blackness is inherently queer,” they added. “For me, I knew I had a duty: if I’m going to talk about this, I want to talk about the whole picture of how I got here.”


The filmed reading of All Boys Aren’t Blue is yet another part of that vision made manifest as yet another medium for us and by us. Registration for Monday’s screening is open now; all registrants will receive viewing links for its premiere on February 8.

Maiysha Kai is managing editor of The Glow Up, host of The Root Presents: It's Lit! podcast and Big Beauty Tuesdays, and your average Grammy-nominated goddess next door. May I borrow some sugar?