Teyonah Parris: “The story behind Candyman is still relevant”

Teyonah Parris as Brianna Cartwright in ‘Candyman,’ directed by Nia DaCosta.

By Mariá Estévez, MWN

‘Candyman’ is more than a simple horror film. The 1992 tape dealt with classes, races and traumas. It was followed by two sequels, ‘Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh’ (1995) and ‘Candyman: Day of the Dead’ (1999). And almost 30 years later, a direct sequel of the same name is expected to hit the big screens this week.

Teyonah Parris who plays art gallery director Brianna Cartwright in the new production, sat down with Metro to talk about what went into making the movie.

What did you think of the script when you first read it?

I was excited about working with Nia DaCosta and Jordan Peele. I had seen Nia’s work with ‘Little Woods’ and I just loved what she had to say with it and how she used different elements to bring that story to life. I was really excited to have the chance to create with her.

Your character is very sweet and caring, but she’s also a fierce businesswoman. Tell us about her. 

Brianna is very ambitious and finds herself in an art space that isn’t usually occupied by people of color, particularly women of color. Being a curator was really fun and a really interesting thing to explore. I actually had the opportunity to speak with Naomi Beckwith, who is the senior curator at MCA (Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago), and she was just a wealth of knowledge for me. I would ask how she feels when she’s in these spaces, and she would give me tips on things I hadn’t even thought of, like how to present yourself and not to distract from the art you’re presenting.

It was also a great opportunity to speak with Joeonna Bellorado-Samuels, founder of We Buy Gold and director at Jack Shainman Gallery. They were my go-to for gathering information.

The film is inspired by real-life cases when it comes to racial injustice.

There’s something tough about knowing the art we are making is in response to these violent patterns and there is an audience that relates to it. 

Why do you think it is the best time to release a new ‘Candyman’?

Unfortunately, the story behind ‘Candyman’ repeats itself. 30 years have passed since the original movie was released and it is quite relevant. For example, police brutality against Black people and what it takes to heal from generational traumas are things that you didn’t necessarily even know you were affected by because it happened to your ancestors. But it is in the DNA, it is in the blood, in the history. I hope this film helps us to have this conversation and take real steps to heal.

This movie was shot in Chicago. Tell more about your experiences while working there.

It was our duty to go to Chicago and pay our respects to Candyman. It is still a place with a lot of ghosts and it is very eerie from an economic standpoint.

You also have a big role in the Marvel Universe’s WandaVision. What does it mean for you?

To see that Marvel is going to use this unapologetically Black, unapologetically strong, ambitious woman and bring her into the MCU was super exciting.

‘Candyman’ is now in theaters.