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A Black filmmaker creating on his own terms

Stefon Bristol tells Into America that Black filmmakers like himself don’t need the Oscars or the gatekeepers of Hollywood to cosign their greatness.

About this episode:

This past weekend’s Oscars ceremony was one for the history books. There was, of course, the smack seen around the world. But beyond the most salacious headline of the night one fact stood out: this was the Blackest Oscarsceremony the world has ever seen.

Two of the night’s three hosts – comedian Wanda Sykes and actress Regina Hall – were Black women. All the young people handing the winners their trophies were HBCU students. And for the first time in its history, the show was produced by an all-Black producing team, led by FAMU alum Will Packer.

But the Oscars have a troubled history with race. In 1940 Hattie McDaniel became the first Black person to win an Oscar, for her portrayal of Mammy in Gone with the Wind. After a tearful acceptance speech, she returned to her seat at the edge of the auditorium where the ceremony was held, segregated from her white peers. It would be nearly a quarter century before another Black actor won an Oscar, when Sidney Poitier took home the prize for Best Actor in 1964. With last weekend’s awards included, a total of 22 Oscars have gone to Black actors during the Academy’s 94 year history.

But do we really need an organization like the Academy to tell us how great we are?

The entertainment industry is full of Black creatives making their own way, producing the stories that they want to tell, on their own terms. This week on Into America, host Trymaine Lee speaks to one of them, filmmaker Stefon Bristol, the man behind See You Yesterday about what it takes to make it in Hollywood while staying true to yourself.

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Find the transcript here.

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