JAY-Z attended the BFI London Film Festival in the U.K. on Wednesday (Oct. 6) where his co-produced film The Harder They Fall had its world premiere. The Jeymes Samuel-directed Western stars Idris Elba, Regina King, Jonathan Majors, LaKeith Stanfield and more; and was inspired by the stories and history of African American cowboys and cowgirls.
Speaking with PA Media at the event, Hov explained the importance of the film and seeing Black representation in Western movies.
“Just to see us represented, you know? With a lot of films we didn’t see ourselves in Westerns, as if we didn’t exist,” the rap mogul said. “It is almost odd. People think that it’s like a caricature, that they are playing roles, but they’re not playing roles.”
“These names like Stagecoach Mary, all the actors in this, they really existed in this time,” he continued. “So, just see us represented and see that we have voices. There were so many towns that people didn’t know about. So, to bring interesting stories to the big screen and also educate — any time you can do that is just a blessing.”
Director Samuel, who also penned the film’s script, spoke with Shadow & Act about working alongside JAY-Z earlier this summer. The pair previously collaborated on Hov’s 2017 short film Legacy and on The Great Gatsby soundtrack.
“I’m fortunate [JAY-Z’s] one of my closest friends,” Samuel said. “Working with JAY is like breathing. It’s literally just like breathing. He’s a really great collaborator. He really believes in collaboration and bringing everything together. What the public doesn’t know and what would surprise them is how versed he is in all these different aspects of art.”
“So, even when I’m writing the script, I’ll be going back and forth with him all the time,” he continued. “I’ll be stuck on a particular scene and he would have actually been through something like that in real life and advise me on how the outcome would be or what the character’s motivation would be.”
The Harder They Fall will air in a limited release on Oct. 22 before hitting Netflix on Nov. 3.