The Oscar-winning writer of 12 Years a Slave on race in Hollywood, his must-suffer TV and his spat with Steve McQueen
Did John Ridley know what he was letting himself in for? When we meet the morning after the London premiere of his political drama Guerrilla, the busiest man in television still seems to be processing last nights audience reaction to his UK debut. I dont know if surprised is the word, he says, pensively. I think, unfortunately, sometimes these kinds of stories are both timely and timeless.
Amid the usual post-screening feting and fact-checking, several attendees asked about his decision to feature an Asian woman, played by Mumbai-born Freida Pinto, at the forefront of a film about Britains 1970s Black Power movement (the series also features Wunmi Mosaku and Zawe Ashton, albeit in less prominent roles). A heated discussion about the erasure of black women ensued, which has also spilled out on social media.
Let them @ him all they want: the 51-year-old writer-director-producer is no stranger to issues of black representation on screen and working with controversial historical materials (hes the auteur behind films such as 12 Years a Slave, second world war drama Red Tails and the George Clooney-starring war satire Three Kings). Ridleys knack for making provocative work has been honed by a relatively recent move to telly and shows such as the blunt and unrelenting American Crime.