By Rob Markman
Everyone involved in the creation of “Red Tails” will tell you that it was no easy feat to get the movie into theaters, but now that struggle is being rewarded. The film debuted at #2 in the box offices and Ne-Yo believes that all of the hard work paid off. “I feel like we definitely did what we set out to do, which was make sure these incredible men, the Tuskegee Airmen, got the recognition that they deserved for the incredible things that they did for this country,” Ne-Yo told MTV News of the George Lucas-produced film on Wednesday.
“And [we] proved to Hollywood that an ensemble cast of black faces can put asses in the seats, basically,” he laughed. “So I feel like we served our purpose.”
“Red Tails” tells the story of the Tuskegee Airmen, a group of African-American fighter pilots who battled deep-rooted racism, while fighting in World War II. Both Terrence Howard and Cuba Gooding Jr. star in the flick, while Ne-Yo, Method Man and Tristan Wilds have supporting roles. The historical piece hit theaters January 20, the Friday before Martin Luther King Jr. Day and opened second behind “Underworld: Awakening.” Not bad for the singer/songwriter, who was also named senior vice president of A&R at Motown Records.
Considering the movie wasn’t especially well-received by critics, “Red Tails” did well in its first weekend, surpassing initial expectations. Lucas appeared on “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” earlier this month and claimed that major studios showed no interest in the film when he went to pitch it.
“It’s because it’s an all-black movie,” he said. “There’s no major white roles in it at all. It’s one of the first all-black action pictures ever made.”
“We’ve come a long way from when Martin was marching in the streets and getting rocks thrown at him. We’ve come a very, very long way,” Ne-Yo said. “However, even with that being said, we got a long way to go. As a black person, period, we’re kinda constantly in a state of proving, which is something that I came to wraps with a long time ago.”
Despite the studios’ lack of interest in the film, Ne-Yo decided to let the success of “Red Tails” speak for itself. “At the end of the day, you complain about it, or you prove them wrong,” he said. “I feel like this was a matter of just proving them wrong.”