The magazine enlisted none other than Regina King to DIRECT their “Black Americana” cover shoot featuring Viola Davis and her beautiful family. They didn’t stop there though. A black woman, Brooke Marine, penned the accompanying article, and Andre D. Wagner — who did much of the photography for ‘Queen & Slim’ (and happens to be the husband of current The Cut EIC and former Teen Vogue EIC Lindsay Peoples Wagner) took the photos for the shoot. The legendary Ruth E. Carter styled this shoot — with the work of Carrie Mae Weems as a reference point. Y’all. This is amazing. We hope the publishing AND fashion AND film worlds are watching because THIS IS EXACTLY how it’s supposed to be done.
In the accompanying W Magazine cover story Regina King details how she came up with the story behind the Black Americana shoot by watching old interviews of Viola Davis where she could hear “the pain as well as the beauty in the bruises” in Davis’ delivery. Furthermore, King says Davis embodies her idea of Black Americana:
“I don’t think any of us are particularly happy with the state of America, but we still embrace the fact that we are Black Americans, even with all of the things that have happened in history.”
THIS. THIS. AND ALL OF THIS.
The story King had the Davis/Tennon family enact followed them from enjoying a Saturday afternoon at home before the adults head out for an evening on the town. The following morning the family head to church, but when they return home the mother receives a tragic phone call.
King had Nina Simone playing when Wagner shot the heavier photos for the set.
Regina King recalls the music of legendary Nina Simone and the feelings it evokes:
“It’s sad, but we still have this thing about us as Black people that, while we have the burden, we believe in giving it to God, and that our spirits are or will eventually be freed. You feel the weight of the world, but you’re hearing Nina’s voice and what she’s saying, and somehow you believe it’s going to be okay.”
Regina King on how she felt like she prepared for becoming a director throughout her entire life:
“As an actor, I was paying attention and not really knowing why I was paying attention—why I would stay behind, why I would be on set when it wasn’t even my scene. I didn’t really know why then, but I know now.”
Regina King on the importance of collaboration:
“I’m not really interested in being a part of something if it doesn’t feel collaborative, whether it is as a director, an actor, or a producer. By not wanting to include other people’s ideas, you could end up with something really unimaginative.”
Viola Davis explains that King’s insistence on capturing Black life in its totality was what drew her to participate in this project:
“There’s a life beyond the tragedy, there’s life even within the tragedy, and there was a life before the tragedy,” she said. “That you can be experiencing moments of joy when tragedy comes in and invades your life, and then it melts into something else—we understand that about life in general, but not always with Black folks in it. This is the first time I’ve ever done a photo shoot like this.”
Viola Davis laments on the continued racial stereotypes at play in Hollywood despite all the progress that’s been made:
“It becomes about reinterpreting who we are to either look better than what we are, more noble, more aesthetically beautiful in a sort of assimilationist realm, or it’s another version of Blackness that is downtrodden.”
Viola Davis recalls studio executives scoffing at the idea that she could be considered sexy enough to have an attractive husband on How to Get Away With Murder:
“I feel like there is still a filter that we have to go through, and by the time you see us on-screen, we’ve become almost a Mr. Potato Head of who we actually are,” she continued. “You’ve got to snip out this part for white people because it’ll become an indictment. And then what’s left is a huge lie. An apologetic lie.”
We love these photos of this beautiful family. The love that is so evident between husband and wife and parents and child.
This one might just be our favorite.
Great work on this.
Read the full article online HERE