I’m Talking Poetic Justice: John Singleton Reflects Back On The Film As It Celebrates Its 20th Anniversary!
It’s hard to believe 20 years have passed since Janet Jackson starred as a lovelorn poetess sporting her now iconic braids and reciting Maya Angelou poetry to Tupac Shakur in John Singleton’s in Poetic Justice.
At a time when Black cinema was replete with male narratives (Boyz N the Hood, New Jack City), Singleton unapologetically gave a voice to young African-American women. As the film celebrates its 20th anniversary, Essence spoke with Singleton on having Jackson as a muse, filming during the L.A. riots and who he would cast if there were a sequel.
Whose idea was it for Janet to have the now signature braids?
That was a collaboration between myself, Janet, [dance choreographer] Fatima Robinson and a dancer named Josie Harris. Josie had the braids in Michael Jackson’s “Remember the Time” video, which I directed. I brought her and Fatima and a couple of other dancers over to hang out with Janet and they all became friends. I said, “Why don’t we try and do Janet’s hair like Josie’s hair?” We got the hairstyle from Harlem and just put it in a West Coast movie.
Was the script written for Janet despite others coming to audition?
Everybody just showed up at the office. It was a movie with a Black female lead, which is rare. But I wrote it for Janet. When I first met her I told her I wanted to do my next movie with her. Critics and frustrated sisters hated on her but I understood it; not that many movies came out with Black female leads.
Who would be the modern day Lucky and Justice?
I don’t know, maybe Tyrese and Rihanna. I really want to do something with her. I talked to her before and I think she’d be very interesting. She’s young and beautiful and accessible and women like her.
You can read the rest over on Essence.com. John Singleton has some really cool stories and memories of the times they were filming.
Who would your pick be for a modern day Lucky and Justice?