Backtalk with Robert Townsend

The Web is a new medium for you. How did Diary of a Single Mom come about?
[One Economy CEO Rey Ramsey] said, “Can you tell a story in 12 minutes?” The first thing he wanted to do was a show about single moms, and use Internet tools that could make it interactive and make their lives better. Billy Dee [Williams], Richard Roundtree, and Diahann Carroll signed up. Monica Calhoun stars in the show. And Leon, my brother from The Five Heartbeats, signed on. Everybody came on board this little series.

You addressed the difficulties of black entertainers in Hollywood Shuffle. Nearly 25 years later, what are your thoughts on the state of black film?
You do see more African Americans in roles that are nontraditional, but we don’t have as many original stories. We have more artists of color blended into the blockbusters, but we need more balance of the personal stories.

When I was trying to catch you earlier, you were out of the country.
Yeah, I went to France. I went to the Louvre and I went to see the “Mona Lisa” up close and personal. It really inspired me as an artist because you want to create a piece of art that people will want to see again and again. I’ve been able to create a few movies and television shows that people would consider classics. For me as an artist, I want to step up my game.

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