Why Nia DaCosta Was A Better Choice For Candyman Than Jordan Peele, According To Teyonah Parris

Jordan Peele has horror fans on the edge of their seats following the release of the Oscar-winning film Get Out and 2019’s Us. The next movie from the comedian-turned-filmmaker, Candyman, is coming out this weekend, but this time, Peele did not direct it. He turned over that honor to his co-writer and now-Marvel director, Nia DaCosta. Ahead of the film’s release, one of the film’s stars, Teyonah Parris, shared her experience with the up-and-coming director.

Nia DaCosta was approached by Jordan Peele after he saw her first film, Little Woods, and the two filmmakers wrote the Candyman script together before Peele stepped aside and completed his work on Us. The Get Out filmmaker also shared that he felt DaCosta was the better choice to shoot the movie than he was. During the Candyman press conference, Teyonah Parris discussed her own reasons why DaCosta was a better choice to helm the horror movie:

What I love that Nia brought to this film is it's not often that I get to work with a Black female as a director. And so having that opportunity there, there are things about my character that she just understood about this relationship, about the history and the trauma that we're bringing to the forefront, that I didn't have to explain my existence, my being, and why a particular decision or choice wouldn't make sense.

There just are not enough Black women directing movies to begin with, but it was especially helpful for Candyman due to the specific character Teyonah Parris plays in the film. In Candyman, Parris portrays an art gallery director named Brianna Cartwright, who is dating Yahya Abdul-Mateen’s Anthony McCoy. When the couple move to the setting of the Candyman legend, their relationship is tested. Parris continued to share her experience with these words:

I felt like it gave us an opportunity to dive deeper quicker, because there was a mutual understanding and a shared history of certain experiences. Not all of our experiences are the same, which is what makes it amazing and great and layered and textured, but there was a baseline for us to start with and I love her visual aesthetic and she knows how to speak to actors. And I feel like she is very much an advocate for the actor.

That's not to say that Jordan Peele wouldn’t have done a great job communicating these themes with Teyonah Parris, but not as well as Nia DaCosta, who could immediately relate to Parris both as an actor and through her character Brianna. It’s also a great reminder about the importance of representation on projects such as this, especially in circumstances when a Black woman is leading a film like Candyman.

Teyonah Parris is currently reprising her role as Monica Rambeau on the set of The Marvels next to Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel after her killer introduction in WandaVision earlier this year, with Nia DaCosta directing her. The pair from Candyman clearly love working with each other, and their rapport will be of benefit to them when making an even larger-scale film together.

Teyonah Parris stars in Candyman, which comes to theaters this Friday, August 27. As far as Jordan Peele goes, the director is set to return to horror for a movie called Nope coming next summer.

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.