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2015 NBC New York Summer Press Day

Source: Daniel Zuchnik / Getty

Did you know Drumline was inspired by the life of super producer Dallas Austin?

Or that director Charles Stone III‘s only major credits before shooting Drumline were for Paid In Full and the Budweiser “Whassup” commercial?

The Undefeated interviewed Nick Cannon, Orlando JonesZoe Saldana and more for an in-depth look at the making and legacy of  the classic HBCU coming-of-age story.

Here’s how far the studio went to make sure a White character was included:

Jody Gerson (Producer): The studio kept focusing on a white character. That we had to have a white character to market the movie.

Dallas Austin (Executive producer film and soundtrack, music supervisor): I got a call from Fox. They said, ‘Dallas, we don’t know how to say this, but put white people in the movie.’ I said, ‘OK, how many white people do you want?’ They said, ‘We want somebody in the band. … We have to have a character, because now it’s turning into a black movie.’
Charles Stone III (Director): The studio wanted a white character in the midst of this ensemble of color in order to support or give us the amount of money we wanted. We needed $20 million to make it. They were offering us $15 million.

Dallas: First, it was a $13 million movie, which is a lot for an urban film, so to speak, at that time. I was trying to tell them, it’s not an urban film, it’s a story … it’s a team story. We started going over $13 million, because nobody knew what it was like to film 300-piece marching bands.

Charles Stone III: In order for me to get the additional $5 million, I had to create a white character.
Dallas: I said, ‘Let me see how a white kid’s story would be inside of a black marching band without making it ridiculous.’ I go to Morris Brown College one day, and I see this kid. He’s one of the cymbal players, a white kid with red hair. I said, ‘Where’d you come from?’ He said, ‘In Atlanta, down the street. I’ve always wanted to be in the band because I grew up in the neighborhood.’ We followed that story into GQ’s character.
Jayson Flore (GQ): I got this appointment for Drumline … and Charles was like, ‘Hey, can you play the drum?’ … I wasn’t trained growing up, playing the drums, but I’m a musician. So I saw the question as, ‘Do you have rhythm?’ I’m like, ‘Fuck yeah, I got rhythm.’ It’s funny that I ended up getting the role where the guy has rhythm issues.

Read the full feature here.

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