MTV Entertainment Group Commits $250 Million to Drive Content From Women- and BIPOC-Owned Production Companies

Actor, director

Already on an awards tear, King made her feature film directorial debut with “One Night in Miami,” which premiered at the Venice Film Festival, and then proceeded to pick up her fourth Emmy — this time for her performance in “Watchmen” — two weeks later. There are normal mid-career Hollywood renaissances, and then there’s whatever you call King’s past half-decade. A working actor since the mid-1980s, with roles in “Boyz N the Hood,” “Friday” and “Jerry Maguire,” King has won a Golden Globe and an Oscar for acting in addition to her Emmys within the past five years. Adapted from Kemp Powers’ play, “One Night in Miami” features a speculative imagining of a real-life 1964 meeting of the minds between Malcolm X, Sam Cooke, Jim Brown and boxer Cassius Clay, soon to change his name to Muhammad Ali. King had directed TV episodes before, but her debut feature offered plenty of fresh wrinkles. “The biggest challenge was to make it not feel like a play,” King says. “That outcome may have been inevitable in certain moments. But I felt Kemp’s dialogue was so powerful that with the right actors those moments, if they came up, would be forgiven. We spend quite a bit of time in one room. So we decided to use artistic license and make the room considerably bigger than what the actual room would have been. To help lean into the vitality of these men, we decided to keep the camera moving at all times throughout the film.” Featuring discursive, playful and, at times, incendiary exchanges between these four famous men, “Miami” often can’t help but feel like it’s speaking directly to the present moment, which was something King didn’t hesitate to lean into. “The discussions between Malcolm and Sam were happening before anyone knew about a Malcolm X or a Sam Cooke, so for Black people the moment is always now, regardless of what year the conversation is taking place.” And for that reason, King felt it important to move full-steam ahead with the film’s rollout — it will receive a limited Christmas release before hitting Amazon Prime in early January — despite the pandemic. “With all of the devastation we are in the midst of, I believe we are at a precipice,” King says. “We felt strongly that if this film can have a positive impact on anyone at this juncture, we should get it out there.” — Andrew Barker

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