“I’ve been a big fan of Magic for number of years,” admits composer Terence Blanchard about lending his talents to the four-part documentary series “They Call Me Magic,” about the life of sporting royalty Magic Johnson. For our recent webchat he adds, “for me there was a true fascination about getting the backstory, learning about everything that was happening in his life, along with everything that I was watching at the time. It’s just a fascinating thing to even just to ponder, ” he says. “I would have watched the documentary, so when I got the call, I was extremely excited because I’m such a fan.” Watch our exclusive video interview above.
The legendary musician and two-time Oscar-nominated composer (“BlacKkKlansman” and “Da 5 Bloods”), who has also received 16 career Grammy Award nominations to date (with five wins), is celebrating his first ever Emmy nomination this year, for Best Music Composition for a Nonfiction or Reality Series for his work on the show. The Apple TV+ series, directed by Rick Famuyiwa, offers a rare glimpse into the incredible real-life story of NBA legend Magic Johnson, both on and off the court. It features intimate, never-before-seen interviews with Johnson and his family, and features an all-star lineup exploring his journey from being the face of the Los Angeles Lakers to changing the conversation around HIV after his diagnosis, to becoming a successful entrepreneur and community activist.
Blanchard is nominated for the series’ third episode, entitled “Earvin,” in which Johnson receives the earth-shattering diagnosis that he has contracted HIV. It’s an opportunity for the acclaimed composer to explore more somber and melancholy aspects of Johnson’s journey, which Blanchard relished as a way to honor the man behind the legend. “We all just remember, those of us who were there, those of us who are fans of Magic,” Blanchard explains of his decision to submit the pivotal episode. “When the world got that news, we all look at it as being a death sentence at the time,” he says. “It was just heartbreaking. So, I figured that a lot of people had a similar reaction to the news as I did and to hear him talk about it in great detail, revealing going to the doctor, getting the news, having to tell his wife. You just can’t imagine going through something like that. Then for him to go through that and then come up the way he’s come out, with his relationship with his wife stronger than ever, for him to be healthy and doing a lot of things, that makes it even more powerful to me, because of his resilience, which is the thing that made him as successful as he’s ever been. It just made sense.”
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