12 Years A Slave Screenwriter is a boss

I heard this awesome interview with John Ridley, who adapted 12 Years A Slave for the screen, on my drive in to work today.

It’s been long time since I’ve heard an interview this good. Especially from a writer. I recommend you click the link to NPR for the whole thing but here is my favorite part:

My father was out here in California at [a school “grandparents’ day”]. … And a woman from Virginia came up to my dad … and she said to him, “Oh, your name is Ridley? … I used to have family in Virginia named Ridley.”

And my dad just said very casually … “Oh, well, you know what, your family, they probably owned our family. They may have. I have family from Virginia.” And the woman was not shocked, she was not taken aback. She goes, “Oh, you know what? That’s very possible.” They started researching together, firing letters back and forth, looking to find out if that was true.

I think it’s very important for people to not go into it going, “Oh, if my family did that 160 years ago, that’s me.” As opposed to, “Why don’t we find out what happened? Why don’t we find out how we got to a point now where our kids or our grandkids are in the same school, enjoying the same privileges, that we are citizens in the same country and can actually talk about this as opposed to being afraid or horrified about what happened?”

What happened, happened; we can’t change that. But we can change who we are in this moment. That’s how you move on from this.

What an articulate guy. No wonder his screenplay won an Oscar.


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