Yahya Abdul-Mateen II

Candyman Director Nia DaCosta Launches #TellEveryone Social Justice Initiative

The social impact initiative invites viewers to discuss the themes of the film.

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Nia DaCosta’s reboot of the horror classic Candyman is finally hitting theaters next week, after nearly a year-long delay thanks to the pandemic. And in advance of the film’s release, director Nia DaCosta, Universal Pictures, and Jordan Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions are collaborating on #TellEveryone, a social justice initiative designed to foster conversation around the themes within the film. Candyman touches on many topics, including police brutality, gentrification, Black trauma, and discrimination.

The Candyman website features videos of roundtable discussions with the cast, filmmakers, influencers, and experts on a variety of topics. The first roundtable, The Impact of Black Horror, is hosted by actor Coleman Domingo , who is joined by Dr. Wendy Ashley (Professor and the Associate Chair of the California State University at Northridge’s Masters of Social Work program), Lorenzo Lewis (founder of The Confess Project), Tananarive Due (UCLA professor of Black horror and Afrofuturism), and Yolo Akili Robinson (founder and executive director of the Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective aka BEAM).

The campaign also held a series of in-person and virtual screenings hosted by people like Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o, Savannah and LeBron James, Shahidi Wright Joseph (Us), and Lil Rel Howery, among others.

And for those looking to explore further, Universal Pictures collaborated with Langston League, an educational curriculum firm that specializes in culturally responsive instruction materials, to create “The Official Companion Guide: An Exploration of Themes” for the film. The guide features special insight from educators, Professor Tananarive Due and Professor John Jennings, to help unpack the legend of Candyman.

Since the film centers on visual artist Anthony McCoy (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), Universal has teamed up with HBCU Buzz for the CANDYMAN HBCU Artist Showcase, where six talented student artists studying at historically Black colleges and universities around the country have been hand-picked to interpret the social impact and artistry prevalent in the film by erecting CANDYMAN-inspired murals on their campuses.

Candyman is also featuring Black artists with a fan art showcase via Black Artist Space. This all combines to make a thoughtful list of resources and further reading to explore the socio-political themes that the film brings up. This is largely thanks to the predominantly Black creators who created the film.

The film’s star, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II explained how the perspective of the film has changed saying, “[Candyman] was portrayed as a tragic figure, but we sort of remember him as a villain, you know, history remembers his bad deeds, … This version of Candyman gives us a chance to take back his story and to present a character who was turned into a monster. We present a character who has a soul and someone who we can be empathetic towards. It’s really, you know, a form of taking our narrative, taking the story of our history and our trauma and telling it back the way that we desire to tell it.”

Candyman hits theaters August 27.

(via Variety, image: Universal Pictures)

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Author
Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.