Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Jamal Airs His Dirty Laundry

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Jamal Airs His Dirty Laundry

Article excerpt

Maurice Jamal first blipped on the pop culture radar in 2003 as a recurring player on Chappelle's Show, the deliciously politically incorrect variety and sketch show on Comedy Central. A year later Jamal broke into film with The Ski Trip, a campy black gay independent feature that he wrote, directed, and starred in. His next project is the much anticipated Dirty Laundry, which opens in December and tells the story of Patrick, a successful gay man, played by uber-hottie Rockmond Dunbar (Prison Break, TV's Soul Food), who returns home after many years and comes out to his family. Notable heavyweights in the cast include Loretta Devine (Waiting to Exhale) as the mother and gay icon Jenifer Lewis as Aunt Lettuce. The script has created a buzz for being a rarely seen mainstream black-themed drama with a gay subtext. We caught up with Jamal to ask him what it's like to break the film barrier.

The Ski Trip was a gay-themed romantic comedy. Why did you decide your next film would be a mainstream black family drama?

I've always wanted to do a black family film. Something that would resonate with our people--one minute you're laughing, the next minute you're crying. The ultimate goal of filmmaking is to tell a wonderful story, so if I can do that with Dirty Laundry plus break down a few barriers, then it would be a wonderful thing.

Dirty Laundry is probably the first mainstream black feature film with a gay protagonist. Did you intend to make history?

It wasn't so much that I wanted to tell a gay story, but the story wanted to be told.

In my experience, coming out is very singular. The process is very self-involved; it's about discovering your sexuality, your life, your freedom, it's all about you. So my idea was to think about the family: How does the family accept, react, and process the coming-out of one of their own? …

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