You already know we stan a queen, so when we found out that Pam Grier has some new projects brewing, we had to get the scoop from the original Foxy Brown. Pam Grier is a womanist icon who paved the way for women to lead action films to this day. You can check out some of Grier’s classics like Foxy Brown, Coffy, and Friday Foster among other Black cult favorites—old and new—on Brown Sugar, a streaming service by Bounce TV that recently expanded to Xfinity X1. Grier, who is an ambassador for the service, suggests giving the gift of a subscription for the holidays, at $3.99 per month or just under $50 for the year.
She’s also gearing up for her own story to be told. Her autobiography, Foxy: My Life in Three Acts, has been optioned for film and if we all get our way, we’ll be seeing Idris Elba starring in it as one of the most crucial men in Aunt Pammie’s life. Here, she discusses why she believes in Brown Sugar, her love of strong women, how Meagan Good might be the right one to portray her on screen, and more.
On Brown Sugar
[Brown Sugar has] a library of over 300 films, documentaries, musicals, and comedy shows. Now all of our actors and comedians and musicians can be shown how important their work is, and there’s a viable market for it. Now, you create an element for funding for new movies. Not only for television, but possibly a musical, plays, and film.
I came aboard because I realized I found the right place, the right home, the right niche to go around the country, to go to every city and talk about films that were made 40 years ago…and then my mom, who is 90, can see every Sidney Poitier movie (laughs).
We’re not monolithic. We’re conservative, fundamental, moderate, and liberal, and you see all of our movies that took so much to be made. And to last so long and to still be viable, still be interesting. I had a driver for Uber who was from Ghana, who turned around and said “I saw you on Brown Sugar. And I got a subscription for my family because we’re from Africa and we knew nothing about African Americans until we saw Brown Sugar. And now we’re seeing a variety of culture.” He said it inspires students, writers, and people, in general, to continue to uncover great stories that haven’t been told but that are quite viable for our entertainment industry.
On Her Favorite Movie Roles
It would be Coffy, Foxy Brown, Sheba, and the humorous side would be Friday Foster, and then there’s a bit of Jackie Brown, where some days I know that I’m not gonna smack somebody, ’cause I have to be prepared to be smacked back (laughs).
On Casting Her Biopic
Idris Elba is going to play my grandfather, Daddy Ray. I don’t care what we gotta do because he has the face. He’s perfect for Daddy Ray and he wants to be in the film. [Editor’s Note: This isn’t official yet but the odds of this happening are good].
Meagan Good wanted to do Foxy Brown for Hulu and I know she was talking to Bennie Richburg, who has done a lot of research with me through the years as we were writing the screenplay. And I haven’t heard anything. I don’t know if it goes or not, but she’s ideal. There are so many great actresses now, so it’ll be whoever brings it, who embodies and understands [but] Meagan does great work.
On Strong Women
The character Coffy is based on [my mother]. How she stood up to the very negative masculine predators in the community, who were selling drugs and just lazy and didn’t want women to make more money than them, and just some BS, and she took a lot.
I’m a part of the Me Too Movement. But see, it’s about time because in the ’50s, I was attacked as a six-year-old, and I was attacked again in college, and then attacked again in the early ’70s when I came to California to go to film school, and I fought that one off, but it almost killed me. And how dangerous it is to be able to stand up for your integrity and your life, but I was lucky I walked away alive, but I fight to live, to win, and I knew that I’m gonna go to film school, I’m gonna do these Roger Corman movies to pay for my tuition, because I want to tell stories. I had Gloria Steinem and the Women’s Movement, and Barbara Jordan and Shirley Chisholm—they were academics and lawyers and a lot of these women were our classmates in college. We looked up to them. Those were our heroes, then.