Nicole Avant Interview: ‘The Black Godfather’ producer
Nicole Avant is very proud of the fact that she came up with the idea of making a movie about her father, Clarence Avant, which would become “The Black Godfather,” when she was just a little girl. “It was definitely my idea. I’ve thought about this film since I was eight years old,” she revealed to us in our recent webchat (watch the video above). But it also took some encouraging from her longtime friend, Reginald Hudlin, who would ultimately direct the film. But Avant also makes sure to describe how the film goes beyond just being about her father. “We wanted to make the film…dedicated to all these men and women who had this collective consciousness to fight racism, to fight injustice and to focus on freedoms.”
“The Black Godfather,” which is currently streaming on Netflix, explores the long and storied career of Clarence Avant, a talent manager, music executive and entrepreneur. His reach within so many aspects of black culture and pop culture earned him the nickname that serves as the movie’s title. But what made Clarence’s career really stand out was the way he would fight for black entertainers to be included in America’s mainstream and how he fought for those same talents to be properly compensated. His daughter Nicole, a former finance co-chair for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign and a former U.S. Ambassador to the Bahamas, served as one of the film’s producers.
Avant also says that Clarence does have hope for where this country will go in the wake of mass protests over the issues of race and police brutality but notes that he does have some trepidation about it. “My father’s hopeful for sure but he’s also 89 and he’s kind of looking at this again and saying, ‘Really? Again? Are we still here?’” She adds that what we are seeing is not anything new and a continuation of what’s been going on for decades and that we need to keep telling these stories and acknowledging the mistakes of the past. “I think he’s kind of seeing if you don’t tell stories to each other and right the wrongs of the past, every country has been through things like this but you have to own things and that you have to make changes when necessary,” she adds.
She also tells us that while her father doesn’t hold on to regrets, he has a lot of “in hindsight” moments, and she believes the biggest one he’s had in life was his decision to purchase an L.A. radio station (KAGB-FM) in 1973. Poor management and defaults led Avant’s company to file for bankruptcy, an exodus of clients and a personal loss of over $600,000. “Everything kind of crumbled because of it. I know for sure it took him to the darkest place of his life and without his friends I don’t know what would have happened to us.”