Skip to main content

Anthony Mackie Discusses the Challenges of Being a Black Filmmaker in Hollywood Today — ‘It Becomes a Melting Pot of Ridiculousness’

Anthony Mackie has been working in Hollywood for over 20 years, so he's seen and done a lot. He recently lamented on the difficulty of being a Black filmmaker in Hollywood, noting that there are significant challenges.

Anthony Mackie recently became the first Black actor to play Captain America. The news came after the conclusion of the hit Marvel series, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and fans immediately began to speculate about a potential Captain America 4 movie.

Even though Mackie has become more of a public figure in recent years thanks to Marvel productions, he’s no newcomer to the movie business. His career spans over 20 years, so he’s seen and done more than many people realize.

During his time in Hollywood, Mackie has seen the difficulties that Black actors have landing lead roles in major films, as well as getting films of their own made. The talented actor detailed the challenges of being a Black filmmaker in Hollywood during a recent interview. 

Anthony Mackie says ‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’ should’ve been adapted into a film years ago

Anthony Mackie attends the UK Film Premiere of "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" at Westfield London
Anthony Mackie attends the UK Film Premiere of “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” at Westfield London | Anthony Harvey/Getty Images

Mackie talked about the difficulty of getting Black films made during a conversation with Hot 97. Specifically, he noted how the Academy Award-nominated drama Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom should’ve been adapted from the play of the same name a lot sooner. 

“August Wilson kind of did something that we don’t talk about enough and we don’t celebrate enough, and he was a dear friend of mine,” Mackie said. “I knew him for a great period of time, and his play should’ve been made into movies. It’s kind of sad that we had to wait for him to pass away for him to get his just due. Those plays have been around since the 80s, why’d it take 30 some odd years to finally get a film made of Fences, to get a film made of Ma Rainey? These are prolific stories in an amazing 100 year scope of the Black experience in America.”

Mackie added that oftentimes, Black actors have to work extra hard to ensure that important films such as Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom get made. 

“As Black actors, we have to lend our celebrity to make sure that those plays are turned into films,” Mackie said.

He says getting a movie ‘greenlit’ in Hollywood is difficult for lower-level actors

Later in the interview, host Ebro Darden asserted that times have changed for Black actors, as they can now find financial backing and distribution for their own projects like never before. Mackie agreed, but he also shared one of his observations about Hollywood.

“Well, you have to look at what goes into the idea of a project being ‘greenlit’, ok?” Mackie said. “So the reality of it is this: If you’re Matt Damon, if you’re Leonardo DiCaprio, if you’re Will Smith, Hollywood has become a business of passion projects, right? So everything you do, it’s your passion to do it. ‘I’m trying to get my movie made.’ So if you’re one of the big stars, your passion is everybody’s passion. But if you’re just a B-level actor who’s really enthralled with a project and want to get it made, your passion is your passion.”

Anthony Mackie claims there are still many obstacles for Black actors looking to make movies 


‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ Star Anthony Mackie Says Black American Actors Aren’t Given Same Opportunities as Black British Actors

Mackie claimed that there are many people in Hollywood who get joy out of shutting down an actor’s projects, so fighting to get a film made can be an uphill battle. 

“You have so many agents and so many people in the way, stopping these projects,” Mackie said. “Like, their joy in life is to tell you ‘No.’ They wake up every morning with a hard-on, like, ‘Ooh, who I’ma tell no today?’ … So the problem is, we let so many people get in the way of us creating our content that it’s almost impossible to get a movie made. You have to fight with so many lawyers, so many agents, so many industry people, so many friends who are jealous of you, who want the job that you got but they can’t do what you do. And it just becomes a melting pot of ridiculousness that makes it damn near impossible for your passion to be everyone’s passion.”