Film Talk: Directors at Work

By Wheeler Winston Dixon | Go to book overview

KASI LEMMONS

Kasi Lemmons is one of the new generation of African American filmmakers who grew up in the business working as an actor in everything from McDonald's commercials to series television and soap operas, and then moved on smoothly to the big screen in such films as Jonathan Demme's Silence of the Lambs (1991) and Bernard Rose's Candyman (1992). However, even while she was absorbed in building her career as an actor, she also worked diligently as a writer on her own unproduced projects and longed for a chance to direct her own film. That moment finally came with Eve's Bayou in 1997, a touching portrait of African American family life that became a huge crossover hit with mainstream audiences. The success of the film, which Lemmons wrote and directed, effectively put her on the map as a talent to watch.

Most recently, Kasi has been shooting Talk to Me (2007), with Don Cheadle and Cedric the Entertainer, and seems determined to continue to work as both an actor and a director for the foreseeable future. Married to the actor/director Vondie Curtis-Hall (Waist Deep [2006]), Kasi manages to balance the demands of family life, an acting career, and her own personal projects as writer/director. It seems that we have only just begun to hear from this immensely gifted woman. This conversation took place on March 22, 2006, and offers a view into the life of an artist who is constantly searching for the next project that will captivate her interest, whether as writer, actor, or, as she makes clear she most prefers, director.

WHEELER WINSTON DIXON: You were born as Karen Lemmons. Why did you change your name to Kasi?

KASI LEMMONS: I never really changed it. Nobody ever called me Karen—a couple of people, my father occasionally. My mother and my sister always called me Kasi or Katie.

WWD: And so that just basically stuck?

-188-

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Film Talk: Directors at Work
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction ix
  • The Old Masters 1
  • Ronald Neame 3
  • Val Guest 23
  • Budd Boetticher 38
  • Albert Maysles 58
  • Cult Visions 81
  • Jack Hill 83
  • Monte Hellman 98
  • Robert Downey Sr 119
  • New Voices 137
  • Takashi Shimizu 139
  • Jamie Babbit 160
  • Bennett Miller 174
  • Kasi Lemmons 188
  • Index 205
  • About the Author 218
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