Award-winning actor, writer and producer Nicole G. Leier joins us on Close-up Culture to talk about her new short film – Black Chicks.
Q: You originally performed in Neil LaBute’s play ‘Black Girls’ at James Franco’s Studio 4 in L.A before suggesting it be adapted into a film. Can you tell us about the play and why you thought it should be adapted?
A: It was something that spoke to me on many different levels. As we worked on the play and after we put it up at the studio, it was a piece that stuck with me. I wanted to work with Neil and adapt it, as it was a story I wanted to share with as many people as possible.
Q: The film follows a conversation between two co-workers in which underlying stereotypes come to light. What issues did you want to address in the film and why did you feel this setting/scenario would be an effective way to do it?
A: I feel that this little film addresses a lot of different issues, but what I feel it does more than that is it holds a mirror up to the dark thoughts we all have. It is a film that will make you think and maybe make you see some things about yourself you may not like.
Q: Did you find your own experiences reflected in the story?
A: One-hundred percent. It is one of the reasons I wanted to make this film. I think everyone will see some of themselves and their own experiences reflected in this story, especially in our current climate.
Q: What was it like working with writer-director Neil LaBute?
A: It was a huge dream come true. I, just like many actors, have been a huge fan of Mr. Neil LaBute for many, many years. I am so thankful we were able to work together on this project.
Q: ‘Black Chicks’ was produced by your company Black Tree Pictures. Can you tell us more about the company and what you enjoy about working behind the camera?
A: As I am moving towards doing a lot more directing, I’ve been carefully choosing projects to develop that will give me episodic and film experience while also pursuing topics that are important me. Currently, I am in development on a number of projects with Black Tree Pictures, one of which includes a new short comedy about having black hair in a white world.
Q: You’ve won awards for your role in ‘Black Chicks’. What are your ambitions for the future? What kind of projects do you would to produce and work on?
A: My passion has always been to tell stories to help audiences. Audiences want to be able to see themselves on the screen, in different roles and in different situations. In my work, I aim to show the ugly side of humanity because, ultimately, we all have an ugly side even if we don’t want to admit it. I believe it is important to show the juicy, raw side of characters just as much as it is important to show the compassionate, humane side.
Filmmaking and storytelling is a form of art, but it is also a form of education and it is important as artists to use our voices and help to shed the light on underrepresented or misrepresented stories. Right now, more than ever, society needs us to speak up and stand together in order to bring justice to historically discriminated communities that surround us.
Q: Like most kids of the 1990s and early 2000s, I am very intrigued and excited to see Netflix’s the ‘Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’. What can you reveal about your time working on the project and what we can expect?
A: I am not able to share to much at this point. But I will say the cast and crew are so much fun. It was honestly one of the best sets I have been on.
Q: Do you have any upcoming projects you can share with us?
A: I have just completed a feature film starring alongside Nicolas Cage called A Score To Settle. I am so honoured to have been a part in this project!
Originally, they were looking for a male to play this part, so I had out-audition all of the men to get the role. I’m very excited for you guys to see this film and the work we have done. It is a character I am very excited to share because it’s something totally different from my usual projects/characters.
Highland Film Group will introduce the project to international buyers during the American Film Market, which opens Nov. 1 in Santa Monica, Calif. A Score to Settle is directed by Shawn Ku, winner of the Toronto Film Festival’s Discovery Award for his debut feature Beautiful Boy. The script is written by John Newman and Christian Swegal.
Not to forget, Black Chicks is doing the festival run.