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If Not Now, When? Director’s Biggest Motivator As A Black Entertainer

Tamara Bass, Meagan Holder & Mekia Cox in If Not Now, When?

If Not Now, When? stars Meagan Good, Tamara Bass, Mekia Cox and Meagan Holder as four best friends who are bonded by an event in high school and later navigating various challenges in adulthood with each other to lean on. The dramatic and emotional film feels like a love letter to Black women, although it was not made specifically for Black women. It was a passion project of co-directors Tamara Bass and Meagan Good, and Bass recently shared her biggest motivator as a Black entertainer.

I got to chat with writer/director Tamara Bass and she shared lots of thoughts about colorism in the industry. She did not receive the warmest welcome to Hollywood, but that hasn’t stopped her. Despite receiving a bunch of negative feedback when she first began pursuing a career in entertainment, Bass has flourished, and used the criticism as fuel. Here’s what she told CinemaBlend:

I was raised in such a manner that I was Black and I'm a Black woman, no matter where I am, but it wasn't something that had to be stated. Every time I walked in a room, it wasn't as a Black woman, it was just, ‘Oh, is that what you want? To be great? You can be it.’ No one told me the limitation. So as I got older and started really diving into this... obviously growing up on the East coast, I have a different mentality. So when I came out here to go to college, I just believed that hard work plus determination equals reward. Well, then I get into an industry that tells me all of the things that I'm not enough at as a Black woman. So now, because you're telling me I can't act and I can't be these things because I'm Black and because I'm not pretty enough, not sexy enough, not this enough and because I'm too dark over here, or I'm not dark enough. All of these things are why you're telling me I can't pursue the thing that I love. So now it's my mission to change all of that one thing at a time. You're telling me I can't be this? I’m gonna write a movie with four of them being that. It's my driving factor. One of my biggest motivations is: tell me what I can't do, and I'm going to show you 20 different ways in which I can.

Tamara Bass is not letting anyone tell her what she can and can’t do, and I want this woman to be my life coach. It’s a story we hear a lot in Hollywood, that you hear a lot of no’s, you have to have thick skin, and you have to want it more than anything. So that part isn’t new, but I can say from experience that being told you can’t do something because you’re Black - not because you don’t have the training or the skill, but because you’re Black - is quite infuriating. But Bass lets it roll right off and says ‘watch me.’

If Not Now, When? is available on digital and VOD. For more with Black leads, check out these hidden gems. We are always curating lists for you here at CinemaBlend, like these franchises you can stream in quarantine.

Samantha LaBat

Obsessed with Hamilton and most things Disney. Gets too attached to TV show characters. Loves a good thriller, but will only tolerate so much blood.