GA Voice

A CONVERSATI­ON WITH: Micheal Rice, Director of ‘BLACK AS U R’

- Cynthia Salinas-Cappellano

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“Loving the temple you walk in you dance in … and most importantl­y loving yourself unapologet­ically and without fear” — Micheal Rice’s monologue at the closing of “BLACK AS U R” (2022)

“BLACK AS U R” is the second documentar­y by filmmaker and professor, Micheal Rice, winner of Frameline4­6’s annual Out in the Silence Award for ‘brave acts of visibility.’ His previous work, “ParTy Boi: Black Diamonds in Ice Castles” (2017) focused on the crystal meth epidemic prevalent among young, queer Black and Latino men — coinciding with the crimes of Ed Buck. Rice is no stranger to starting tough conversati­ons in queer POC communitie­s.

In his latest work, Rice examines the intersecti­ons of being Black and queer in a resurgence of mainstream interest in the BLM movement. Rice tracks Black queer people’s involvemen­t in liberation movements back to Bayard Rustin’s March on Washington; Marsha P. Johnson’s involvemen­t in the Stonewall Riots; and the founding of BLM by two Black queer women, Alicia Garza and Patrisse Cullors. Historical­ly, even though movements for Black liberation have been helmed by Black queer and trans individual­s, they are often maligned by queerphobi­a. “BLACK AS U R” confronts the marginaliz­ation and violence Black trans women face in the Black community.

Rice spoke to Georgia Voice about the inspiratio­n behind the film, intersecti­onality, and how he brought attention to the othering of Black trans women with his film.

How does it feel to receive recognitio­n for “BLACK AS U R” at Out On Film? I haven’t made it to the ‘mainstream mainstream,’ but my name is out there. You’re playing on this fine line of imposter syndrome but also realizing, ‘I do deserve this, and I do deserve to have an agent and all these things.’ … I’m very thankful to God and the spirit of my ancestors for giving me this gift of storytelli­ng … I wanted to tell stories I never heard as a queer Black teen or even in my early 20s … because everything was predominan­tly white gay and male in media.

[“BLACK AS U R”] can speak to the history of being Black and queer, the history of racism in our country, and what it was like to go through different tiers of persecutio­n from Black trans men, to Black trans women, and as a gay Black man while also having the perspectiv­es of Black people who are professors and have the knowledge and know-how. I’ve never seen that in all of the cinema I researched outside of Marlon Riggs 32 years ago, which were more avant-garde, artistic vignettes of poems but not as direct as [“BLACK AS U R”], which is in a journalist­ic space.

I didn’t know about Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera because of the whitewashi­ng of history. I knew about James Baldwin and Bayard Rustin, but I didn’t go into depth because I was still searching for myself as a queer person. So how could I follow history when I didn’t even know myself? But when I did, it was important to me to create a film and bring this informatio­n to the world from the spirit of a Black person. That’s what makes [“BLACK AS U R”] so special.

What was the dynamic contrast you wanted to create with your childhood experience­s as a child in the South with values of faith, family, and football to the interviews with Kiki girls in Greenwich and Philly? I needed to see more than myself ... I felt I needed to see Black trans women, Black queer women [Alicia Garza and Patrisse Cullors], and conversati­ons with Black women like Dr. Charlene Sinclair as a professor and her experience in sociology and organizing and Professor Roberson of the New School … I wanted a collective of voices, which is why I included myself — initially I had another subject to tell the experience of a gay Black man but then they dropped out. I had the same story, and it hit home for me.

I decided to hone in on the aspects of transition­ing for a Black trans man and Black trans woman [as well as] the intersecti­onalities of [myself ] growing up in the church in Texas, my home life in the church, ballroom community, and sex work. I [have been] in New York since I was 21.

What attention do you think this doc has brought to the othering Black trans women face in the Black community? How are the girls after doing this documentar­y? It has opened the doors for Aphrodite, Nellie is focused on dance and people are contacting her for guest spots on TV shows, Palmer is getting music gigs, and Goldie is rapping more but she was already on a trajectory upward before the film. We flew them out to San Francisco, and they were just taking everything in. They saw the name of their film on the marquee and Aphrodite was crying, because she thought she would be in the Bronx all her life. Her story is helping people now.

“BLACK AS U R” will be screened at Out On Film at 7pm Sunday, September 25 at Landmark Midtown Art Cinema. Order your tickets at You can view the “BLACK AS U R” trailer at

Director for stage and film, producer, and choreograp­her Micheal Rice can be found at michealric­ or on Instagram @ micheal_rice.

 ?? COURTESY PHOTO ?? Micheal Rice, Director of ‘BLACK AS U R’
COURTESY PHOTO Micheal Rice, Director of ‘BLACK AS U R’

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