Written by: Nalo Hopkinson
The quick and dirty version: My first novel was titled Brown Girl in the Ring. It was published in 1998. A few years ago, Caribbean-Canadian actor/director Sharon Lewis asked my permission to make a film inspired by that novel. I replied, as one does, “Talk to my agent.” Sharon did so, and they hammered out a contract. I signed off on it. Then Sharon wrote the script, fundraised, hired the cast and crew, and made the film. Let me restate: Sharon Lewis is the artist who created the film Brown Girl Begins. Here she is:
Brown Girl Begins is inspired by my novel, but Sharon’s story makes significant departures from mine. Brown Girl Begins is her project, her first feature film. It was her idea, initiated and created with blood, sweat and tears by her. I didn’t approach her. I didn’t hire her. In fact, I wasn’t the least bit interested in making a film. That was all Sharon. I didn’t do much beyond cashing a small option cheque once a year for the past few years and encouraging Sharon as she went through this gruelling process. I understand that people are excited to see a film made in the world of one of my novels; I am, too. I’ve seen the film, and it’s beautiful and the actors delight me and the people involved in every aspect of making it have been freaking ingenious. So I’m getting increasingly irked when people say, “Nalo’s book is a film!” with no mention of the actual artist responsible for everything about the film, including the idea and the drive to make it in the first place. Please, have a care. Artists deserve credit for their work. On the IMDB page you can also see a list of all the actors, technical experts, musicians, crew, etc (artists in their own right) as well as the list of producers. You’ll note that my name is not among them. That is entirely appropriate.
And here’s the exciting part: Brown Girl Begins is having a premier screening! It’ll be at Urbanworld in New York on September 23.