Chill Out

Taraji P Hen­son shines in a biopic on overcoming racial prej­u­dices


The Best of En­e­mies tells a story that seems way too weird to be true – a racist Ku Klux Klan mem­ber be­comes a civil-rights activist, all thanks to the in­flu­ence of a black woman fight­ing for school de­seg­re­ga­tion in the USA.

If it sounds too much like Green Book, an­other drama based on a true story that had a racist overcoming his prej­u­dices, it’s re­ally not, says Taraji P Hen­son who plays Ann At­wa­ter.


Em­pire pro­ducer Danny Strong gave lead­ing lady Taraji the script for The Best of En­e­mies back in 2014 when they were shoot­ing the Em­pire pi­lot. She was keen to star in it but the tim­ing didn’t work out.

“Then [Don­ald Trump] was elected and the tem­per­a­ture of the coun­try changed. I called Danny, and I was, like, ‘You know we gotta make this movie and we gotta make it now?’,” she told Black­film. com.


When she read the script, Taraji thought it was fic­tion. “I mean, I just never heard of such a thing, a Klan mem­ber de­nounc­ing the Klan and then be­com­ing a civil-rights activist. I’d never heard or seen any­thing like that in cinema and I just thought, ‘Wow, this is a true story, this could change things’.” The film is based on the non-fic­tion book The Best of En­e­mies: Race and Re­demp­tion in the New South by Osha Gray Davidson.


Unlike Green Book, Taraji says, in this movie it’s not CP El­lis, the Klan mem­ber (played by Sam Rock­well), who saves the day.

“To me, it’s Ann At­wa­ter’s story. It’s ac­tu­ally a story about friend­ship but it’s [through] her lens”.

Ann, who died in 2016, was a sin­gle mother who quit her job as a do­mes­tic worker to join the civil-rights move­ment in the 1960s.

Ann, says Taraji, got CP to change his ways af­ter she re­solved to fol­low her faith.

“God’s love is un­con­di­tional. Yu’ve gotta love like Je­sus did: un­con­di­tion­ally. Love is the search for un­der­stand­ing. She had to fall back [on those lessons] and re­ally look at this man and try to un­der­stand him. As hate­ful as he was, all he wanted was love. Who came to res­cue him? A black woman.”

The Best of En­e­mies is now in cin­e­mas.

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