“Proud Mary” Keeps on Turning, Even if Sony Isn’t Steering the Ship

Written by C.Diva

Proud Mary starring Taraji P. Henson comes out today, Friday, January 12, but most folks haven’t heard much about it. Sony hasn’t been properly promoting the film, which looks like it could be the black girl version of Atomic Blonde, a movie I skipped because sometimes I get tired of watching movies without any representation.

In Proud Mary, Henson plays “Mary”, a hit woman with a heart of gold whose life is drastically changed after one last job. Although the plot may seem trope-y, the casting is not. With the exception of Blaxsploitation films like Jackie Brown, black female leads in non-romantic, non-comedic films are as rare as they feel. An adventure drama with a badass lady lead and she’s also black? Yes, please!

Unfortunately, Sony hasn’t put in the work for Proud Mary. With only a few television spots, a Twitter Q&A with Sony Pictures, a Facebook live event that looked like it was filmed on someone’s cell phone, and no advanced screening for critics, the lackadaisical response to the opening of Proud Mary is reflective of the attitude prevalent in the hacked emails of 2014, in which an unnamed Sony exec warns against casting black actors — using Denzel Washington in The Equalizer as an example — because they don’t perform well for “racists” international audiences. Henson, in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, also discusses the lack of overseas promotion.

“[Studios] never expect [black films] to do well overseas,” she says. “Meanwhile, you go overseas and what do you see? People trying to look like African-Americans with Afros and dressing in hip-hop fashions. To say that black culture doesn’t sell well overseas, that’s a lie. Somebody just doesn’t want to do their job and promote the film overseas. Do you not have people streaming my Christmas specials in Australia? Come on, y’all! I don’t understand the thinking. Send me over there, and if it fails, then we don’t do it again, but why not try? If I knew this movie was gonna make money domestically, I would try to get more money overseas. It’s business!”-Taraji P. Henson

Representation is so important. Especially images that reflects a diverse audience and show black women, especially black women over 40, can and do kick ass. For so long, white folks have been the default in film and television but Black Panther (opening Feb 16), A Wrinkle in Time (opening March 9) and Proud Mary give audiences mainstream depictions of black people doing extraordinary things, and that, my friends, is so important, even if Sony doesn’t seem to think so.

Proud Mary opens in theatres everywhere Friday, January 12.