My Celebrity Life

Director Adeyemi Michael on his Netflix Black History Month collection and why Black people need more than ‘down and out stories’

Netflix has launched Black British Stories with the critically-acclaimed film Rocks (Picture: Fable Pictures)

Director Adeyemi Michael has called for Black fimmakers to be given ‘licence’ to make films that aren’t just ‘down and out poverty’.

The Entitled director has worked with Netflix and curated Black British Stories, an ‘evolving’ collection of films for Black History Month.

When building the collection he ensured to cover all sorts of themes from drama – such as Babylon and the critically acclaimed Rocks – to horror with His House and comedy with Chewing Gum and a special from Gina Yashere.

While there is a space for such stories detailing people’s hard, lived experiences of being Black and British, Michael is keen to see more about Black people ‘just existing’.

He told ‘I think when it comes to our story, everyone is always concentrating on the fascination of the down and out the poverty, all this sort of stereotypes and the tropes, or like the super successful thing, and there’s nothing in the middle. There’s nothing about the banality, or the nuance, or justexisting sometimes.

‘It’s just incredible and in certain films, I’ve seen that. I mean, there’s a documentary called Hale County This Morning, This Evening and that is just a beautiful film about how we just exist. It’s an American tale, but that also defies the laws of you know what it is to be a black filmmaker.

Horror-thriller His House is part of the Black British Stories collection (Picture: Netflix)

‘Not just black British filmmakers. I think when it comes to making films, we need to occupy ourselves, not just with ourselves but the process.

‘We need to obviously tell our stories in a variety of ways, but we shouldn’t be limited in what the subject matter of those stories are about, or how a character needs to go through a story.’

Michael believes there is something for everyone in the Netflix collection. Although it is being launched under the banner of Black History Month, ultimately these are ‘human stories’ and people who aren’t Black can take away something from them.

‘If they are also human, they will relate to it, and that’s the end, I have not even got anything else to sort of add to that,’ the director explained.

‘For me it leads us back into that trap again, of, “Oh, it’s a black story.” Well these are human stories about humans that exist. It’s a thing we have to shift the dial on. These are human experiences.’

Once we reach November and Black History Month comes to an end, it can’t be business as usual – so what does Michael think comes next for the film industry?

For him everything element of change needs to be targeted and specific rather than sweeping in order to be lasting.

Michael told us: ‘With the collection, we’re going to add to it, we’re going to find new voices, we’re going to uplift new filmmakers through it.

‘Everything in that collection is just going to expand and experiment. And the good thing is, I think it’s important not to just put everything right. I think it’s about always looking and being specific and being intentional, you know, it’s a very intentional collection.’

Adeyemi Michael’s Black History Month collection is available on Netflix now.

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