Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-02-22



Patrik-Ian Polk's Blackbird screening at local film festival
by Terri-Lynne Waldron

This article shared 4931 times since Wed Jul 2, 2014
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Chicago's Black Alphabet Film Festival presents Blackbird, a film directed and co-written by openly gay filmmaker Patrik-Ian Polk. Blackbird is a coming-of-age story about a 17-year-old choir boy in Mississippi who struggles with his sexuality while living in a conservative religious community.

The film stars Oscar winner Mo'Nique, Isaiah Washington and newcomer Julian Walker, and is based on the novel Blackbird, by Larry Duplechan. In an email interview, Polk discussed turning the novel into a film, breaking ground with the TV show Noah's Arc and what a blackbird means to him.

Windy City Times: The film is based on the novel Blackbird, by Larry Duplechan which was first published in 1986. When did you read the book?

Patrik-Ian Polk: I first read the novel as a freshman in college in Boston. I was a young kid from a small town in Mississippi, away from home for the first time. And I was amazed to see an actual 'gay and lesbian' section in a bookstore in Harvard Square. Skimming the shelves, there was one book that I could tell from the spine, had an illustration of a Black person on the cover. That book was Blackbird.

WCT: Did the novel resonate with you in any way on a personal level?

PP: The story resonated with me because it was the first book I'd read about a young Black gay person coming of age. And it's a richly told story with wonderful characters and music.

WCT: Why did you want to turn it into a film?

PP: I just knew instinctively that I would one day make that book into a film. That was 1989. Twenty-five years later, here we are.

WCT: Mo'Nique co-stars in the film and she is the executive producer along with her husband, Sidney Hicks. How did the two of them come to work on the film?

PP: Isaiah Washington is my favorite male actor and was always my first choice to play the main character's father, Lance Rousseau. Once he signed on, he suggested Mo'Nique for the mother, Claire, and sent her and Sidney the script. The rest is history.

WCT: Julian Walker plays the main character, Randy Rousseau, and this is his first film. Was it daunting for him to play the lead in such a dramatic role, and have that be his film debut?

PP: I think he was nervous at first, but everyone embraced him and made him feel comfortable. And he took to it immediately. He's a real talent.

WCT: What was it about Julian's audition that led you to cast him in the film, where there must have been more experienced actors who auditioned?

PP: We went through quite a few actors out in Hollywood, but there was no one fearless enough to take on this challenging role. When I saw Julian's first audition, it was amateurish, I could tell he had little to no experience, but there was a spark of something there. Something worth examining. I'm glad I took a chance. All that searching in L.A. for the perfect actor and he was right there in Hattiesburg, Mississippi—a junior at the University of Southern Mississippi! And he's openly gay—which is so refreshing.

WCT: You got many accolades for the 2005 groundbreaking Logo series Noah's Arc, which centered around the lives of gay, Black male characters. Why do you think that, almost 10 years later, there is not one show on TV with multiple gay Black characters?

PP: I certainly wish there were more. But I don't waste time questioning why. I just keep pushing to make more and more films and more television shows. I'd rather continue being part of the solution than expend precious energy griping about the problem. I am excited for Lee Daniels' new series Empire, which debuts next year on Fox and promises to explore some gay issues within a Black family drama.

WCT: Why is Spike Lee an inspiration?

PP: Spike Lee came onto the scene when I was around 13, at a time when I was just starting to formulate ideas about what I wanted to be, what I wanted to do with my life. I think I always knew, but the first Black face I could put on that job—that title of filmmaker and director—was Spike Lee's. He wrote books about making his films and those books taught me how movies get made, how people become filmmakers. I learned about film school reading his books. So I knew I wanted to go to film school. And I love his films because his films are truth and they never lack vision.

WCT: What does "blackbird" mean to you?

PP: In the book, the title refers to the Beatles song, which was a big hit in the '70s. The book is full of '70s musical references that I knew I would never be able to afford in a film. That was one of the reasons why I wanted to do this as a modern-day story.

But I think the lyrics of that song resonate no matter when the setting and whether or not the song actually appears in the film: "Blackbird singing in the dead of night, take these broken wings and learn to fly." I think Randy Rousseau is learning to fly. He even talks about flying as a metaphor in the film. So that's what Blackbird means to me—taking whatever broken wings life has given you and learning to fly.

Blackbird will be screened at the Black Alphabet Film Festival July 2. For more info, visit .

This article shared 4931 times since Wed Jul 2, 2014
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Gay News

Being BeBe documents life of first RuPaul's Drag Race winner 2023-03-27
- On the evening of March 9, the Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University presented a screening of Emily Branham's documentary Being BeBe, the story of Nea Marshall Kudi Ngwa, a.k.a. Benet, the first winner of ...

Gay News

WORLD Venezuela code, Oxfam, Bosnia items, 'Brokeback,' Pope Francis 2023-03-25
- Venezuela's Supreme Court annulled a controversial part of the military justice code that had criminalized same-sex relations within the armed forces, the outlet Punch noted. The court annulled the provision, which had provided for a penalty ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Joy Ride,' Cynthia Erivo, David Bowie, March Madness, Kevin Bacon 2023-03-25
Video below - The first trailer for the upcoming comedy Joy Ride has been released, Out noted. The movie stars Ashley Park, queer Oscar nominee Stephanie Hsu (Everything Everywhere All At Once), bisexual comedian Sherry Cola (Good Trouble) and ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Black Adam,' Cyndi Lauper, Sondheim, Oscars, OutFest 2023-03-18
- Cultured Magazine recently profiled Quintessa Swindell—who became the first out, non-binary actor to play a lead superhero in the DC universe when they portrayed Cyclone in the 2022 movie Black Adam. Swindell grew up in Virginia ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Little Richard, Indigo Girls, Rodriguez's honor, dance film, Pedro Pascal 2023-03-10
Video below - Produced by Bungalow Media + Entertainment for CNN Films and HBO Max, in association with Rolling Stone Films, director Lisa Cortes' Sundance opening-night documentary Little Richard: I Am Everything will debut in theaters and on VOD ...

Gay News

Billy Masters: Raunchier Uncoupled on the rebound with Showtime 2023-03-06
- "I never liked when she did this in concerts either. I don't like when females are overly sexualized in art. It degrades and objectivy's [sic] women in a way that's not healthy." —TJ Jackson on reports ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Wanda Sykes, Jonas Brothers, 'Queen of Versailles,' 'Bloodshed' 2023-03-04
Adam Lambert video below - Award-winning comedian Wanda Sykes' new comedy special, I'm An Entertainer, will premiere globally on Netflix on May 23, a press release announced. The special, directed by Linda Mendoza, was filmed in early February 2023 at Philadelphia's ...

Gay News

Queerties honor LGBTQ+ creatives at Feb. 28 event 2023-03-01
- The 11th Annual Queerties Awards—which recognizes LGBTQ+ creators, tastemakers, storytellers and newsmakers—took place Feb. 28 at Eden Sunset in Los Angeles. Hosted by drag comedian Bianca Del Rio, the ceremony ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Bob's Burgers,' P!nk, sports items, Billy Porter, Ben Platt 2023-02-24
- Animated sitcom Bob's Burgers marked another major milestone with its 250th episode. Gay actor/comedian/musician John Roberts (who voices Linda Belcher) talked with Queerty and said that one of the most important lessons he's learned from ...

Gay News

'Everything' sweeps The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics 14th Dorian Film Awards 2023-02-23
--From a press release - GALECA,The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics, has named A24's fantastical and affecting family relationship drama Everything Everywhere All at Once 2022's Film of the Year—and then some—in its 14th Dorian ...

Gay News

At 'FIRST(ISH)' Sight: Producer Ashley Flowers speaks on 'honest' representation 2023-02-22
- Ashley Flowers—a producer, co-creator and actor in the short film First(ish) Date, now in pre-production—wears many creative hats. She also has an extensive resume working with stage and film props as well; Flowers has been working ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Black queer films, Janet Jackson, Paramore, WNBA, GALECA contest 2023-02-19
- Queerty ran a piece on 10 films that celebrate Black queer love. Some of them include The Skinny (with Jussie Smollett), Dee Rees' movie Pariah, the Oscar-winning Moonlight, the Marlon Riggs classic Tongues Untied, Brother to ...

Gay News

Goran Stolevski grows up fast with Of an Age 2023-02-14
- Openly gay filmmaker Goran Stolevski is a triple threat: He handled directing, writing and editing chores for his new project, Of an Age, which Focus Features is now distributing. The film is already taking home trophies ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Isaac Mizrahi, Viola Davis, Laura Jane Grace, Elton John, GLAAD 2023-02-11
- On Sherri Shepherd's talk show, entertainer/fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi said he'd love for out actor Dan Levy to portray him in a potential biopic based on Mizrahi's memoir, I.M., The Wrap noted. "Dan Levy, OK," Mizrahi ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Jerrod Carmichael, Alan Cumming, Andre Leon Talley, AIDS drama 2023-02-05
- Openly gay stand-up comic and recent Golden Globes host Jerrod Carmichael is set to star in a comedy documentary series for HBO, according to Entertainment Weekly. The yet-untitled series will center on Carmichael's personal life, following ...


Copyright © 2023 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.






About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.