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avatar color-blind

many of us have and live with the shame of the past.
it creeps up. it doesn’t tap you on the shoulder and say, i’m here.
for me it has often felt like a violation.
a reminder of a time & place called invisibility.

the antithesis of PRIDE.

there is so much being written about THE HELP right now, that to add my 2 cents seems unnecessary. there are essays i have found disturbing, filled with anger & rage; and pieces i just love and cheer on that are filled with passion & profundity.

i’m writing this from a different angle, perspective. i had the privilege of writing the screenplay for the movie FUNNY VALENTINES. it was based on a short story by j. california cooper. a stunning, miraculous, brilliant writer. the movie is set in the south, and is the story of two black women who find out that they are sisters. one is a privileged educated woman, the other a simple one. it is a story about pain, sorrow, love, & anger – forgiveness – but mostly it is the story of the power & beauty of women & their relationships.

the script was originally written by two black men, screenwriters. i had been called by both the producer & the executive at the studio to see if i could do what is called a page one rewrite. i had asked what the problem was. i was told the script was written in ebonics (the short story is exquisite, written so beautifully – these writers chose to write the screenplay in EBONICS!). i didn’t quite know what that meant, (and yes, yes… god yes, there was an agent involved) and the script was sent on to me.

what i read – in approximately 120 pages – was not only a badly written script (yes, in ebonics!), but a script that was completely demeaning to women. women of any race & color. the men were all mighty, the women caricatures. ebonics was the least of the problem.

the film had a start date. it had two black actresses attached, and, yes, a black director – a black female director. the script did not have one white person in it. not one.

it was an african american story.

i was hired to rewrite the screenplay. i worked diligently with the director, the producer and the studio.

i lived in NY, they all lived in LA.
i was hired over the phone. literally, sight unseen.

the director and i had numerous conversations. we developed an amazing collaboration and i wrote a new PAGE ONE script in time. a very short time.

it was given a green light, production went on as scheduled, and, a six months (or so) later, i was invited to the premier in los angeles.

it premiered at the magic johnson theater.

my friend melinda went with me to the premier. we were two of maybe fifteen, twenty white people. this was an all black movie. all black cast. a black director.

when julie dash, the director, was introduced to me (at the theater) by the studio executive, she screamed, “oh my god, you’re a white girl? a white girl wrote that dialogue? i thought you were one of my people. a. maze. ing. just amazing.”

that moment sealed our friendship. we became great friends.

it was a big, gigantic proud moment.

i was proud that i had a voice that was universal.
i was proud that i was able to give the script/story passion, humanity, goodness, kindness and a little extra kick.
i was proud that no one knew the color of the writer.
i was proud that julie dash loved my words because they made her oh so proud.
i was oh so proud that i was able to write about a young woman being raped and that i shared in giving her the moment of confronting her rapist – looking him in the eye – saying: YOU MUST BE IN SO MUCH PAIN TO HURT SOMEONE SO BAD. YOU HURT ME, AND I WILL NOT LET YOU EVER HURT SOMEONE ELSE, AND YOU KNOW WHAT THAT MAKES ME? THAT MAKES ME SO MUCH MORE POWERFUL THAN YOU CAN EVER BE.

and i was most proud if you closed your eyes – her pain, her passion, her victory – HAD NO COLOR.

we all have different voices, different ways of speaking. writing. sharing our stories.
i have sat through many movies embarrassed by the jewish ‘long island’ tilt in the voice; ashamed of the way my grandparents (generation) are portrayed in films. the whole ‘jews are cheap’ dialogue that has been shared year after year after year.
you know, the whole italians are mobsters & gays are fags dialogue.

we don’t seem to have a problem with violence in films, but we sure don’t like sex.

holy shit.

anger has a lot of color to it.
it’s not black or white.

it’s blood red.

we all share that.
same for everyone.

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Category: Uncategorized 5 comments »

5 Responses to “color-blind”

  1. avatar
    J.Seeds

    Great story. Haven’t seen The Help yet, but I plan to soon. I loved the book.

  2. avatar
    Kristine

    If anyone could breath life into a piece of work, in a way that is celebratory of women (in spite of ethnicity) it would be Ms. Ferris. You my dear are a visionary, a story tell and a truth fanatic. I am enthralled with your story and feel like I know you better and am more sure that you are who I believe you to be…MAGNIFICENT!

  3. avatar
    Hollye Dexter

    Love this story Amy!
    And yes, your voice is universal.

    If only the world were colorblind…we’ll get there one day.

  4. avatar
    lois

    Perfect.

  5. avatar
    Madgew

    Loved this one Amy.


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