At a September 2011 event by the Congressional Black Caucus to honor the Tuskegee Airmen and to promote “Red Tails,” Terrence Howard, one of the movie’s stars, said the success of the film would be a critical litmus test for a system that devalued Black actors and Black stories.
The actor said: “The … problem, and what becomes the undercurrent is that it’s an all-Black cast and the villains are white. Now, Hollywood, for a number of years has maintained the status quo by saying Black films do not have an international value. Therefore we’re able to pay Black actors less, we can give them less money to make their films … If this film, if George Lucas, who is basically the Parrish of the film industry, as Col. Noel Parrish did for the Tuskegee Airbase, he put his entire career on the line and stood behind these Black pilots, these American pilots. What George Lucas did, he put his entire career on the line … When they wouldn’t distribute it, he put $30 million into distribution. If this film is not successful, it will become a stumbling block for all time where they can say that Black films do not have value or merit. It’s important that this film is supported … if George Lucas does not profit from this, then the rest of the industry will see no profit in Black people.”