Director Kasi Lemmons talks about her passion project 'Black Nativity'

By Ray Cornelius | 11/29/2013, 6 a.m.
Acclaimed film director and screenwriter Kasi Lemmons’ is back with a new spin on an old Langston Hughes’ classic play ...
"Black Nativity" is contemporary version of the Nativity story stars Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Hudson as Naima, a single mother struggling to make ends meet while raising her teenage son Langston, played by Jacob Latimore. The film is now playing. Check local movie listings for showtimes.

RC: You also teamed up with Bishop T.D. Jakes, what was it like working with him?

KL: Well we just started working together very recently, even though he had been involved with the film since the script stage but we weren’t working together. I mean, he was over there building awareness for it and I was off making the film. So we’ve only really met recently. But we have great chemistry and we get along really well. I’m very impressed by him and very grateful for his partnership in this. We really wanted him to take a look at it and see if this was something he was interested in and befitting of his brand. He’s been very supportive.

RC: How did directing the film and writing the screenplay affect your faith?

KL: It’s a very complicated process. I was like two years into writing it seriously when my sister got ill and she died in summer 2011. I think there was some feeling from the people that were involved in it and the people from the studio that I might not be able to continue because it was such a huge blow. But I found myself working out my grief in the making of the film and even in finishing the script. It became in some ways about my sister. It also became in some ways about how you keep the faith. I can’t point my finger on it, but in a way it became my own quest of faith and how to keep having it and it became very important to me. My feelings about faith are all in the film.

RC: What do you want audiences to walk away with from the movie?

KL: Families are very complicated and messy and I wanted to present a very real contemporary family with contemporary issues and yet with one small gesture, you can affect change in a very big way. Langston’s [Jacob Latimore] journey goes from feeling powerless to really having the power in this situation and realizing that he has an opportunity to create a miracle or be part of one right in his own family.

Black Nativity opens nationwide in theaters November 27.