In Black or White, the new film from director Mike Binder (The Upside of Anger), Octavia Spencer plays Rowena Jeffers, a grandparent battling Kevin Costner‘s Elliot Anderson for custody of their grandchild, Eloise (Jillian Estell). I enjoyed the trailer for the film when I first saw it, but I was secretly a little bit concerned about how the racial politics of the piece would play out, especially after the past year where it’s become clear that our society still has a long way to go before institutionalized racism is a thing of the past.
But seeing Black or White alleviated those concerns for me. The film handles all of these issues thoughtfully and in ways that you wouldn’t necessarily expect. I recently had the chance to sit down with Octavia Spencer to discuss the film. We covered the clear motivations of each character, the comedic elements of an otherwise dramatic film, and how she established her character’s complicated relationship with her brother in the film, played by Anthony Mackie. Check out the interview below. The film also stars Gillian Jacobs, Jillian Estell, and Jennifer Ehle and hits theaters on January 30th.
Here’s the official synopsis for Black or White:
BLACK OR WHITE is the story of a grandfather (Academy Award® winner Kevin Costner) who is suddenly left to care for his beloved granddaughter. When the little girl’s paternal grandmother (Academy Award® nominee Octavia Spencer) seeks custody, a legal battle ensues that forces the families to confront their true feelings on race, forgiveness and understanding. Anchored by an all-star cast and based on real events, the movie is a look at two seemingly different worlds, in which nothing is as simple as black or white.