Q & A: Director Kasi Lemmons (Avril ’11 at Paul Robeson Film Festival @ HU)

Director Kasi Lemmons in the SOB Auditorium for student film festival. (Foto Credit: Bree Grant)

If luck comes your way, be prepared.

Luck is the love child of preparedness and opportunity.


Acting was director/screenwriter Kasi Lemmons’ first love. Her big break came before she even entered junior high. Lemmons’ membership with the Boston Children’s Theater opened the door to her first appearance in a local television show called “You’ve Got a Right”, a courtroom drama. And when she left the Bay State she headed to New York for film school at the New School for Social Research. While in New York, she also studied at the famous Lee Strasburg acting studio, the home of the Method acting embodied by Marlon Brando.

When Lemmons relocated to California, she began starring in her first major films, including Spike Lee’s “School Daze” and Jonathan Demme’s “The Silence of Lambs.”

While acting helped Lemmons pay the bills, her decision to step behind the camera would raise her profile in the movie industry even more. She wrote the screenplay for the sleeper indie, “Eve’s Bayou”, during a break from acting. ”Bayou” won numerous awards for Lemmons, including a an “Outstanding Directorial Debut” from the National Board of Review. “Talk to Me,” a 2007 biopic starring Don Cheadle and Martin Sheen, garnered further accolades for Lemmons and the ensemble cast.

Q1: What advice would you give to aspiring filmmakers and students?

Be prepared. Always bring your ‘A’ game. That’s really my motto. If luck comes your way, be prepared. Luck is the love child of preparedness and opportunity. You got to do your part and to be prepared.

Don’t give up. It’s very easy to just say after a couple of rejections: ‘It’s too hard. It’s just too hard.’ And you can’t. You’ve gotta be stronger.

I find that with women of color, they’re already discouraged before they start. You have to ignore conventional wisdom. Even voices that say you can’t have it all. That’s not true. You have to be able to ignore the noise and believe in yourself.

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