Here’s hoping that by now you have seen the glory that is Lena Waithe and Melina Matsoukas‘ Queen & Slim. The instant cultural classic stars Daniel Kaluuya and ESSENCE cover girl, Jodie-Turner Smith as two unlikely lovers, who are on the run after shooting a White police officer in self-defense.
When we sat down with Kaluuya, he shared his own experience with the police in the U.K. And it sounds sadly similar to what Black Americans go through with law enforcement.
“I first got stopped when I was 13 and it’s been consistent,” Kaluuya recalled.
In fact in 2013, the actor sued the Metropolitan Police for assault and false imprisonment after he was wrongly suspected of being a drug dealer.
“It’s this weird kind of Black male right of passage,” he continued. “The more you have respect yourself, the more problematic you are.”
Queen & Slim isn’t just a film about race relations with the police. That pain is contrasted by a beautiful Black love story onscreen. Kaluuya told ESSENCE he was shocked that it was the first time he saw two dark skinned people just being in love on the big screen.
“This reminds me of my aunties and my uncles,” Kaluuya said. “I saw that as a kid in life. I never saw that in a mainstream cinema. Even though I knew it was coming, it still jarred me how new it felt. To be a part of something like that, I feel really special.”
The film’s director, Matsoukas wanted the world to see Black love play out in a “different way” on-screen, she said. And not just Black love, but dark skinned Black love.
The Grammy Award-winner told ESSENCE, “I really hope that it represents us in a true and authentic way. I really wanted to show a love story between two dark skinned Black people. I wanted to start redefining what beauty is in this country, which has always leaned toward a more Eurocentric version of beauty. And I wanted that reflection onscreen.”
Check out the video above to watch Queen & Slim co-stars Kaluuya and Turner-Smith talking legacy, Black love and police brutality.