*In John Singleton’s 1993 film “Poetic Justice,” the lead character, Justice (played by Janet Jackson) writes poems which she delivers throughout the movie — poems in fact written by Dr. Maya Angelou.
In the following essay, Singleton recalls casting and directing the late poet/author, and reveals the impact she had on his life.
[This story first appeared in the June 13 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine]:
I contacted her when I was doing 1993’s Poetic Justice with Janet Jackson and Tupac Shakur because I was having problems writing the poetry. I thought, “I’m reading these poems by Maya Angelou; why not use her poems?” But I had to get her permission. So I met her for lunch, and we bonded and she also agreed to be in the movie. I had her improv most of her dialogue because, how am I going to write the way she speaks? She speaks so beautifully. I tried to push her to do four or five takes. And after four takes, she said, “Mr. Singleton, I will not be doing any more improv.” She was very supportive of me with Poetic Justice, though — even with all the cursing in that movie. Later, after she’d seen my movie Rosewood [about a real-life racial incident], she said, “Baby, now you’ve done it, you’ve really done it.” You know, in that voice.
I also spent time with her at her home in Winston-Salem. She made a mean apple cider. I would sit and talk with her about her contemporaries — James Baldwin, Malcolm X, Alex Haley. She knew everybody and she had so many different lives: She was a dancer, a singer, she was the first renaissance person I ever met. She had done it all. On the set of Poetic Justice, everyone was enamored of her. We had grown up with her work. I remember seeing her reading on Sesame Street. Her I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was one of the first formative novels I read as a kid. She was the grandmother most of us had never met. My daughter is actually named after her: Justice Maya Singleton.
Watch a clip of Maya Angelou in “Poetic Justice” below;
Want to read more articles like this one? Subscribe to EURnewsletter.
Got A News Tip or Video You Want to Share? Contact us HERE.
- Flashback - Kobe Bryant Ponders Life after Basketball: ‘I’ve Got to Find My Passion’
- Serena Williams is Half-Naked in 2016 Pirelli Calendar (Pics)
- Miami Jury Now Holds Fate of 'Facebook Killer' In Their Hands! (Disturbing Photo)
- What Does Future Require In His Concert Dressing Rooms?
- Female Characters in ‘The Wiz Live!’ Rewritten to be More Empowered
- John Hairston's Gospel Internet Radio Station Hits the Airwaves in January
- 'He Used to Call Me Ma’am' - A Look Back at Kobe Bryant
- $1.5 Million Bail for Cop Charged in Laquan McDonald Murder
- Keyshia Cole Casually Mentions She’s ‘Engaged’, and Not to Birdman
- Donald Trump Cancels Meeting with Black Pastors
- Discover More Stories on EURweb: Click Here