Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A true story

Jennie and Winnie: Will they be cool after this movie?
It is my desire to become a famous writer. The world will read my works and want to know more about the great mind behind them. Hollywood will then create a biopic about my life. Hopefully, if I’m still alive, they consult me. Who knows my story better than me, right? Then again I might forget details, embellish others and want anything bad not included. Perhaps that is the reason Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, ex-wife of former South African President Nelson Mandela, was not consulted for her upcoming biopic.

A few months ago it was announced Jennifer Hudson would play the starring role in a movie about Mandela. Unfortunately one person crying foul is the main character herself. Mandela said she will not support the movie, according to CNN. She feels it is an insult to make a movie about her life without consulting her, especially since she’s alive. Hudson wanted to meet Mandela, according to her reps, but the movie producers thought it was a bad idea. I can see where Mandela is coming from on one hand. It’s her life, and she should have some say on how it’s translated on the big screen. But they might tell a much better story without her input.

One of the best profiles ever written was “Frank Sinatra has a cold” by Gay Talese published in 1966 by Esquire Magazine. I read it in my college literary journalism class, and the story is phenomenal. It felt like I was a fly on the wall during Sinatra’s daily life. It is interesting to note Sinatra refused to be interviewed for the profile. Talese instead spent several months observing Sinatra’s actions and talking to members of his entourage. The final product is considered the greatest profile about Sinatra and one of the best pieces of magazine journalism. And it was made all without Sinatra’s consent.

As a writer, I interview people on a daily basis for their stories. Often they want to read the final draft before it’s published. The answer is no, but I do fact check. Most newspaper and magazines don’t let sources preview a story. It creates a lot of headaches because they ultimately want to change every single detail. It also eliminates the journalistic integrity of the article. My job is to gather the facts and tell the story accurately as a neutral observer. Not write what will make the source look amazing.

Mandela should wait to see the movie before giving her blessing or curse. At the very least the producers know enough to gather the correct facts for conveying the story. Hopefully, they will tell her true story, not the romanticized version. That’s the way any story should be told.


  1. Jennifer Hudson is freakin' awesome, and Winnie Mandela is famous for...what, exactly? Waiting 27 years for her husband to get out of jail?

    I do agree that she should be consulted about her own life -- I mean, how do you expect to write a biography otherwise? Copy the 'facts' from Wikipedia and guess about the rest? But I have to admit that I personally find the concept of a Winnie Mandela feature film to be questionable: the subject matter is dated, and the woman herself is rather dodgy, what with allegations of murder, fraud, kidnapping, and so forth that have been levelled against her.

    And is Winnie Mandela even still relevant?

    I'mpositive, though, that if someone does makeamovie about her, she'll be regarded and treated as some sort of hero, which is what Hollywood usually does with unsavory communist revolutionaries (see: Che Guevara).

    Like the blog, Sunshine! Keep it up!

  2. Lol Matt don't hate on Winnie. She did... OK I'm sure she did something right? Nevermind. And if it's on Wikipedia it is true (sikeaberry). And gracias for the visit. I write to keep sane. Otherwise I'll go insane.