The “Black” ‘Steel Magnolias’… Will This Be a Do or a Don’t?

steel magnolias

steel-magnolias-frt modThe 1989 tearjerker Steel Magnolias is a classic. I’m sure I’m one of hundreds of thousands of women who cries every time Shelby dies and her mom M’Lynn breaks down at the funeral.

Now they’re making a modern day version with, interestingly enough, an all black cast. The remake, set to be released later this year on Lifetime, has just begun shooting right here in my home town of Atlanta. Chicago Academy Award nominee Queen Latifah will take the role of M’Lynn in this hotly anticipated telefilm. The cast also includes multiple Emmy winner Alfre Woodard as Ouiser, Tony Award winner Phylicia Rashad as Clairee, Grammy winner Jill Scott as Truvy, Adepero Oduye as Annelle and Condola Rashad (Phylicia’s 25 year old daughter) as Shelby.

“The caliber of talent associated with this film is astounding and falls in line with our strategy to make Lifetime a first stop for the industry’s best both in front of and behind the camera,” said Lifetime Networks president and GM Nancy Dubuc. “Queen Latifah, Phylicia, Alfre, Jill, Adepero and Condola are some of the most celebrated women in music, film, television and stage, and we could not be more thrilled and honored for them to bring Robert Harling’s poignant story about the strength of women to a whole new generation.”

Although excited about the outcome, my questions is: Is this really… necessary? Certain classics should remain untouched. Not to mention the fact that Steele Magnolias is, in my opinion, like hallowed ground. Then to change the ethnicity of the entire cast to hammer home the point of its “modernization”? That’s like marketing a black Santa – It’s just… redundant.

As an African American woman, I can honestly say that I am excited about this project and truly appreciate the collaboration of such an astounding cast of black actresses (although I’m questioning the Queen Latifah choice just a bit). I will be watching – curious to see this new version replete with the director’s “new age” interpretation…. But will it measure up?

Are you excited about this Steel Magnolias remake? Is the color of the cast even an issue?

Article by Kesha Chisholm. First published as The “Black” ‘Steel Magnolias’… Will This Be a Do or a Don’t? on Technorati.

World Premiere Sunday, October 7 at 9.8C

Update: Lifetime’s version of Steel Magnolias is now out on DVD!