When production on Season 5 of the OWN series “Queen Sugar” was forced to shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic last year, creator Ava DuVernay and her team decided it would make the most sense to retool the show to the current moment. That meant not just folding in the effects of the deadly health crisis in the show’s narrative, but also the murder of George Floyd, the nationwide Black Lives Matter protests that broke out last summer, and even the death of “Black Panther” star Chadwick Boseman.
During an April episode of the show, Blue (Ethan Hutchison) is shown mourning Boseman, who died in August of last year, during a conversation with Ralph Angel (Kofi Siriboe). As DuVernay explained after the airdate, the tribute was made possible thanks in part to the goodwill that exists between Disney executive Bob Iger and OWN boss Oprah Winfrey as well as the relationship DuVernay has with “Black Panther” director Ryan Coogler.
To show the BLACK PANTHER doll on “Queen Sugar” last night took the strength of two friendships. That of our network founder and the head of the studio that made the film. And my own with the film’s director. Thanks to all who touched this scene. “That’s a good place for a king.” pic.twitter.com/3XzD8LmYMk
“My favorite scenes are the scenes between Ralph Angel and Blue,” longtime “Queen Sugar” cinematographer Antonio Calvache shares in the Gold Derby Meet the BTL Experts: Cinematographers panel. “Their connection is the strongest and I have been shooting on this for six years. I have seen Blue grow. I think a lot of the movie ‘Boyhood’ that shot over many years and how fulfilling it was for me as the audience to see those characters grow. I feel like I’m going through the same experience. I see Blue grow. I’m so attached to this character. He has grown up.”
Of the Boseman tribute scene, Calvache explains that it was meant to echo how Blue used to play with dolls as a young boy, but now he’s growing up.
“Now there’s this beautiful scene with the doll. He has grown up and now he can have a serious conversation with his father about what it means to be an African-American in this society. He is growing up to a point where he needs to be careful, he needs to navigate this society so he’s safe from harm. There were great moments in this season where there was that new reality of Blue growing up into an African-American boy and what Black Lives Matter means,” he says.
Watch the full interview with Calvache above. Season 5 of “Queen Sugar” is available on OWN.
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