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She’s Gotta Have It

She’s Gotta Have It

In his second film, some thirty years ago, Spike Lee directed and produced a quirky black-and-white artsy film called She’s Gotta Have It. It was a story about a sexually liberated black female artist living out loud in Brooklyn, at a time when NOBODY dared to push the envelope in the portrayal of black women, lest them be condemned as misogynists and exploitive. By the late ’80s’ filmmakers had come to breakdown black women in film into two categories: saints or sinners and the saints were always the victims seeking empowerment while the sinners were seeking redemption. Spike Lee’s original film broke this puritanical mold, presenting a raw, intimate and jazzy portrayal of real black people in a way that we’d never seen before. Now, as the time approaches for his reimagining of the film in the form a Netflix 10-part episodic series, there’s a question that begs to be asked… Is this story still relevant today?

(L) One sheet movie poster advertises ‘She’s Gotta Have it’ (Island Pictures), directed by Spike Lee and starring Tracy Camilla Johns, Tommy Redmond Hicks, John Canada Terrell, Joie Lee, and S. Epatha Merkerson, 1986. (Photo by John D. Kisch/Separate Cinema Archive/Getty Images) (R) The 2017 version featuring the cast of the Netflix series DeWanda Wise, Cleo Anthony, Lyriq Bent and Anthony Ramos. The Netflix series premiers on Thanksgiving Day.

Nola Darling, the lead character in the story, has issues with the expectations and judgements of those around her, who find her behavior promiscuous and unhealthy. Acting the way any man would on the dating scene at the time, she keeps ongoing relationships with three different suitors with whom she has active sexual relations with. She doesn’t lie about it and during the course of the story, she even brings them all together. Each man is holding out to be the one she chooses, while one her closest sistas in trying to push up on her at the same time.

Nola Darling (DeWanda Wise) with Greer Childs (Cleo Anthony)

Nola Darling (DeWanda Wise) and Jamie Overstreet (Lyriq Bent)

Nola Darling (DeWanda Wise) with Mars Blackmon (Anthony Ramos)

The perspectives shared in the original film redefined paradigms and laid the foundations for the depths of characters that we see in productions today. Lee continued to create characters that were culturally rich, complex, sexual, strong and intelligent in worlds that are broad and diverse. Breaking those walls allowed shows like Issa Rae’s Insecure and Donald Glover’s Atlanta to find their voices.

Justin Simien’s Dear White People made an extraordinary leap from the big screen to a remarkably witty Netflix series with an expansive and insightful storyline that engaged it audience with more enthusiasm than it’s original. In the same vein, She’s Gotta Have It has the opportunity to delve into world of Nola Darling and the potentially rich characters therein. The story is still relevant and hopefully it will inspire a new generation to wake up and think.

Spike Lee and DeWanda Wise

She’s Gotta Have It will debut on Thanksgiving day (November 23, 2017) on Netflix. Created and executive produced by Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee through their 40 Acres banner, She’s Gotta Have It stars DeWanda Wise, Lyriq Bent, Cleo Anthony, Ilfenesh Hadera, Margot Bingham, and Anthony Ramos as Mars Blackmon, the iconic role originated by Spike Lee. According to press releases, Spike Lee keeps the same storyline and plot but makes the topics more relevant with today’s society. The main character, Nola Darling, is infatuated with three men, each of whom have different personality traits that she finds attractive.  Unlike the original movie from the ’80s, we’ll get to see their character evolve throughout a series rather than an 84-minute movie.

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