Is Blackness in Hollywood Bad for Business? 50 Cent Does Not Want ‘Power’ to ‘Be Classified as a Black Show’ 

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Slate
Slate

In a new interview, 50 Cent addresses comparisons of his Starz show “Power” to Fox’s “Empire” and commands the series should not be considered a Black show.

Both dramas prominently feature Black characters. “Power” follows a nightclub owner who lives a double life as a drug kingpin, while “Empire” centers on a hip-hop mogul who fights to find the apparent heir to his throne among his sons and ex-wife.

The Effen Vodka shareholder tells Vanity Fair the comparisons between the shows are “really small. I don’t even like being classified as a Black show.”

He describes the marketing differences between movies that are considered Black films and those that are not. 50 says Eminem’s film “8 Milewas screened in 3,000 theaters at its debut. Yet when his semi-autobiographical and predominantly Black movie “Get Rich or Die Tryin’was released, it opened in only 1,700 theaters.

“I guess all we needed was a white police officer,” he told VF. “With ‘Power,’ I wanted the poster to feature Joe Sikora — Tommy [the white character] — because this show is as diverse as New York City. When we said that New York was a character, it is literally that. My goal is to make the show bigger and bigger and have everybody watch it.”

Many Black entertainers have shied away from being considered a Black actor or having their work referred to as Black movies or Black TV shows. The shift is often done so that white audiences feel comfortable enough to watch their shows and generate box-office success. That, in turn, helps performers break into the so-called mainstream industry, expanding their fan base, according to Clutch Magazine.

Malcolm Lee, who directed The Best Man Holiday in 2013, expressed how sick he was of the way Black films are described when they perform well.

“I’m a Black filmmaker and I fully acknowledge that I tell stories with African-American actors and characters. But they are all very universal,” he said to Entertianment Weekly. “It’s not just a movie for African-American audiences. It’s a movie for everyone.”

But the film did not need white audiences to pull in $30.6 million on opening weekend. Approximately 87 percent of the audience was African-American females.

In 2011, amid speculation that Idris Elba could fill the role of James Bond, the British actor expressed joy over the character but did not want to be considered a “Black 007.”

“I would do it, but I don’t want to be called the first Black James Bond,” he said to NPR. “Do you understand what I’m saying? Sean Connery wasn’t the Scottish James Bond and Daniel Craig wasn’t the blue-eyed James Bond. So if I played him, I don’t want to be called the Black James Bond.”