MFA’s Tananarive Due in the Media

Tananarive Due, faculty in the MFA, Writing & Contemporary Media program in Santa Barbara and at UCLA, was featured in three media pieces in March 2019 on some exciting new developments in her area of expertise, Black Horror. Due also published an article in Medium, “Jordan Peele’s Us: Black Horror Comes Out of the Shadows.”

The piece in the LA Times, Shudder’s ‘Horror Noire’ traces the history of black films and filmmakers in the genre,” discusses how the documentary on Black Horror, Horror Noire (Due is a featured voice in the film) got the green light the day after writer/director Jordan Peele’s Get Out won an Oscar for original screenplay in 2018. Due is quoted in the Times article from a discussion with her colleagues on Hollywood’s newfound willingness to back black creators and actors, and also some of the potential pitfalls of the new developments (ways in which the new developments could be twisted in undesirable directions). “Unfortunately in the time to come, there will be more cynical attempts to create a story that seems black because it has black faces in it, but in fact is not a black story and not even meant for black people,” Due predicted.

In a March 26th, 2019 interview with NPR, which aired on NPR Illinois’  Fresh Air and Aspen Public Radio’s  All Things Considered, Due talked about the potential for Jordan Peele’s new Horror film, Us, to break down racial barriers in the film and media industry. “I think the future is fantastic because those box office numbers for “Us,” to have earned $70-plus million on its opening weekend, is all the information we need going forward that, hey, audiences will watch horror about characters who are not white,” Due said in the interview. “And that also opens us up to outsider perspective. So it’s not just, OK, that the skin color changes, but creators from different backgrounds, from marginalized backgrounds, are bringing their specific histories, stories, traumas and observations into horror in ways that will be fresh for all viewers to help us process politics, to help us process problems in our neighborhoods, just our overall societal fears.”

In the NPR interview, Due drew connections between her family’s history around Civil Rights activism and love of the horror genre. She believes that her late mother (who sustained chronic, police inflicted injuries during a Civil Rights demonstration) saw the monsters and terrors in Horror films as “visualizations” of her own real-life traumas. “When I was growing up in Miami, my late mother, civil rights activist Patricia Stephens Due, would sit with me and my two sisters and watch the Saturday “Creature Features” — reruns of old Universal horror movies like The Wolf Man, Dracula and The Fly,” Due wrote in her Medium piece. “I never saw black characters in those films, but I was hooked on horror at a young age. So were many black men and women I know — especially black women. Our love of horror was gifted to us by our mothers and grandmothers.”