l Source: Nicola Goode / Nicola GoodeIt’s not every day that we see romantic comedies featuring Black people. I don’t know what that’s about. Black folk have proven time and time again that we’re bankable box office stars, across genre. Still the fight to be represented on screen is an uphill battle.
And despite the success of Sylvie’s Love on Amazon Prime and favorable reviews from audiences, the film’s stars, Tessa Thompson and Nnamdi Asomugha share that there were some studios who didn’t believe the film would find an audience.
According to Shadow and Act, the film, set in the 50s and 60s, follows a saxophonist Robert, (Asomugha) who meets Sylvie (Thompson), a woman working at her father’s record store as she waits for her fiancé to return from war.
The two develop a friendship that eventually turns romantic. But the timing is off.
A period piece about Black love is even more unusual. Y’all know period pieces about Black folk generally revolve around slavery, racism, or some type of oppression. But this is different. And that’s the reason why studios didn’t exactly know what to do with it.
Thompson told Shadow and Act, “I know that it was paramount for both of us [to have a love story during this time period],” Thompson told us. “We’ve talked about so, so much how, even in times of strife and struggle in the Civil Rights Movement, people were still finding time to fall in love, to have children, to laugh, to dance. That is one huge form of resistance…to find joy. We’re finding that now during these times. As much as we can take to the streets and yell justice for Breonna Taylor, we also have to gather inside of our homes and love up on each other, particularly when there’s the country at large saying we don’t matter. We have to say we matter to each other… “I think that that’s something that felt important for us — that one way of minimizing our humanity is to not allow us to be full ass human beings and also love and have relationships. So that felt impactful for us and just selfishly, I have always wanted to do a period film. I just have always wanted to have that glamour and that glitz and get that kind of star treatment, and I never thought that I would have the ability to, so you say it’s a dream come true for this to be in the world…it’s a dream come true for me to be in it. This is the kind of film I would celebrate from afar if I wasn’t. So I feel very lucky that I get to be in it.”
Asomugha spoke specifically to Hollywood’s resistance to such an idea.
The other thing that I would say [added] fuel too our tank was just trying to get the film made and going through this process of going to studios and financiers and having everyone say that they don’t believe in it because they don’t believe there’s an audience for this film, which was just so interesting for me. Having not been in this business very long [and] just that I know the films that I watched growing up and the films that I love…and I’m the audience.”
“So for you to say, there’s no audience….obviously, maybe they didn’t have a metric for it..a lot of the people in those positions don’t look like us. So, they’re only going to go off of if they are the audience, a lot of the time. To hear that there was no audience for it. I think that sort of fueled my fire a little bit more to saying, ‘Let’s make sure this gets done.’ I don’t think Tyler Perry is looking and saying, ‘There’s no audience for my film.’ I don’t think Martin Scorsese is looking and saying there’s no audience for [his fim]…even if only Italians watch it, there’s an audience, you know? So that made it that much more important to get a story like this out there, just to show that there is an audience for this type of film.”
You can watch Sylvie’s Love on Amazon Prime Video now.