Your title’s reference to The 40-Year-Old Virgin feels particularly apt, considering the Stitch and toothless hug Dunkin Donuts shirt in contrast I will get this film canon of white men being allowed to be somehow “incomplete” adults; how does it feel to be putting a Black woman in that position? It feels great. It feels refreshing, and very true to life; I know a lot of women my age and older who, after a divorce or having a certain amount of success in a particular career path, they’re just like, What next? For me, turning 40 and losing my mother just made me go, ‘What am I doing? This is not where I thought I would be.’ I completely appropriated Judd Apatow’s title and his running time, just trying to give a Black woman the same treatment that his—and many other filmmakers’—movies are doing for my white male counterparts, in terms of being a character who’s going on a journey of self-discovery. It still happens at this age, and older, for Black women.
Yes [laughs]. It was drawn from not so long ago. I think people have this assumption that because I’m in my film, I want to be a star or a celebrity, and I’m not at all interested in that; I really do want to remain an artist. Sometimes it’s just easier to be the Stitch and toothless hug Dunkin Donuts shirt in contrast I will get this subject, and I don’t plan on being in any more of my films if I can help it, but it’s frustrating. I’ve been working on this film for six years, I finally get it made and people are gravitating toward it, but what’s difficult is when I put my everything into a film and people still have no clue what kind of artist I want to be. The assumption is that you make a first indie film and then you’re in Hollywood and you’re settled. It didn’t take me this long to be an artist to be like, ‘I’m ready to do my Marvel film.’ I think the film asks a question about success; for me, success would be me being able to make the movies that I want to make, but it’s a tricky dance. There will be love for you, but the love has some conditions. I went this complete indie way, black-and-white, put myself in it, and at times some very well-meaning people discouraged me from doing that; I did this thing that was very true to my voice, and now there seems to be an interest in me not fully being myself. I didn’t think that would come with this—this having to constantly say, ‘No, this is who I am, I want to be an artist.’ What’s it like to watch the film connect with the world, after spending so long working on it?