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Reginald Hudlin

Reginald Alan Hudlin was born on December 15, 1961, in Centreville, Missouri. He was raised in East St. Louis, Illinois, by his parents Warrington W. Hudlin, Sr. and Helen (Cason) Hudlin. In 1983, Hudlin received his B.A. degree from Harvard University where his senior thesis project was the first version of the film, House Party. Hudlin was supported as an artist-in-residence by the Illinois Arts Council from 1984 to 1985.

At the age of seventeen, Hudlin co-founded the non-profit Black Filmmakers Foundation (BFF) with his brother, Warrington Hudlin, Jr., in 1978. The brothers then formed Hudlin Bros., Inc., a production company which made several popular music videos for MCA and Polygram Records for artists like Heavy D and the Boyz, Guy and Blue Magic. In 1990, Hudlin expanded his Harvard thesis project into the full length feature film House Party, starring the rap duo Kid ‘N Play. Hudlin directed the hit movie Boomerang in 1992, starring Eddie Murphy. Later that year, Hudlin co-executive produced Bebe’s Kids, an animated musical comedy based on the comic monologues of the late Robin Harris. In 1994, Hudlin created and directed the animated series Cosmic Slop which combined fantasy and social commentary. He received a Cable Ace Award for his work on Cosmic Slop in 1995.

The Hudlin Brothers then founded Hudlin Bros. Records in 1996 and signed a distribution deal with Epic Records, a division of Sony. Between 1996 and 2002, Hudlin directed or produced a number of films including The Great White Hype (1996), Ride (1998), The Ladies’ Man (2000) and Serving Sara (2002). Starting in 2004, Hudlin began writing the story line for the Marvel Comic series Black Panther, the first modern Black superhero. In 2005, Hudlin co-wrote a comic novel, Birth of a Nation, with The Boondocks creator Aaron McGruder. He also serves as executive producer for the animated version of The Boondocks on the Cartoon Network. On July 12, 2005, Hudlin was named President of Entertainment for Black Entertainment Television (BET) Networks. At BET, Hudlin is chief programming executive in charge of the network’s music, entertainment, specials, sports, news and public affairs, film and program acquisitions, home entertainment and programming development units. Hudlin married Chrisette Suter on November 30, 2002. They have a daughter, Helena Grace, and reside in Los Angeles, California.

Accession Number

A2008.067

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/31/2008 |and| 12/12/2018

Last Name

Hudlin

Maker Category
Schools

Alta Sita Elementary School

St. Francis Xavier School

Assumption Catholic High School

Harvard University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Reginald

Birth City, State, Country

Centerville

HM ID

HUD05

Favorite Season

None

Sponsor

Black Entertainment Television

State

Missouri

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hawaii

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

12/15/1961

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Indian Food

Short Description

Film director, broadcast executive, and television director Reginald Hudlin (1961 - ) was the president of entertainment for Black Entertainment Television (BET) Networks. He wrote, produced, executive-produced and directed several films and televisions shows including House Party, Boomerang, The Great White Hype, Cosmic Slop,The Bernie Mac Show, Everybody Hates Chris and The Boondocks.

Employment

Black Entertainment Television

Self Employed

University of Wisconsin--Milwaukee

Ogilvy and Mather

Main Sponsor
Main Sponsor URL
Favorite Color

Orange

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Reginald Hudlin's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Reginald Hudlin lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Reginald Hudlin describes his mother's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Reginald Hudlin describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Reginald Hudlin describes his father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Reginald Hudlin describes his father's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Reginald Hudlin talks about his paternal aunts and uncles

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Reginald Hudlin describes his father's professions

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Reginald Hudlin describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Reginald Hudlin recalls his father's personality and discipline

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Reginald Hudlin describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Reginald Hudlin describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Reginald Hudlin recalls his neighbors in East St. Louis, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Reginald Hudlin remembers his childhood adventures in East St. Louis, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Reginald Hudlin describes the Katherine Dunham Centers for Arts and Humanities in East St. Louis, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Reginald Hudlin talks about his early education

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Reginald Hudlin describes his relationship with his brothers

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Reginald Hudlin talks about his paternal family's dinnertime activities

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Reginald Hudlin describes his early interest in storytelling and comic books

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Reginald Hudlin describes his brother's academic success

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Reginald Hudlin talks about his experiences in private schools

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Reginald Hudlin remembers Mor Thiam

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Reginald Hudlin describes how he came to attend the Assumption Catholic High School in East St. Louis, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Reginald Hudlin describes his early interest in filmmaking

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Reginald Hudlin recalls the television programs of his youth

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Reginald Hudlin describes his decision to enroll at Harvard University

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Reginald Hudlin talks about his introduction to independent filmmaking

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Reginald Hudlin remembers his classmates at Harvard University

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Reginald Hudlin describes his first day at Harvard University

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Reginald Hudlin reflects upon his time at Harvard University

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Reginald Hudlin talks about the black community at Harvard University

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Reginald Hudlin describes his film assignments at Harvard University

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Reginald Hudlin remembers creating his short film, 'House Party'

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Reginald Hudlin talks about his influences as a filmmaker

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Reginald Hudlin recalls his start as an independent filmmaker

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Reginald Hudlin describes his break into the motion picture industry

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Reginald Hudlin recalls New Line Cinema's purchase of 'House Party'

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Reginald Hudlin remembers the Black Filmmaker Foundation's film festivals

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Reginald Hudlin talks about the rise of African American popular culture

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Reginald Hudlin recalls the production of his feature film, 'House Party'

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Reginald Hudlin remembers the cast of 'House Party'

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

3$4

DATitle
Reginald Hudlin remembers his childhood adventures in East St. Louis, Illinois
Reginald Hudlin describes his break into the motion picture industry
Transcript
And, we'd go ride bikes or whatever, and we went to red hill. You know, a lot of the kind of, you know, when you go on kind of a, an adventure trip, kind of a Huck Finn [Huckleberry Finn] type thing with your boys. It was always somewhere profoundly unhealthy (laughter). Because East St. Louis [Illinois] is full of all these bad post-industrial wastelands, right. So, you'd go to red hill, which was some kind of mining thing. So, literally, it was this big hill, or you know, kind of thing you would climb and it was all red. Kind of a red smudge, sand combination. I don't know why it was red. Maybe it was red clay that had been churned or whatever. So, it felt like you were on Mars. And, you'd be walking, then you see these bones. And, you're like, "Where are those bones from?" And, someone would say, "From the pack of wild dogs." Which was, you know, it probably--I mean, or were there wild dogs there? Absolutely (laughter). Were there feral dogs roaming through red hill? Yes. Which of course, for the excitement of going to red hill (laughter). What--was that a leftover bone from one? I don't know. But, it was part of the excitement. Or, it was a big grain factory. Not factory, but, you know, they would store the grains and the trains would come and load up. And, one day that caught fire. And, it was amazing 'cause it was a giant fire. So, of course, everyone comes to watch the fire. And, all of a sudden you heard all the popcorn pop (makes noise). But, like, it sounded like Iraq. And, then the popcorn smell. Then the smell of burnt popcorn which is not so fun. So, what was left of that plant, we'd go rummaging around in, just like an old factory, weed covered, and you'd see a mattress and then somebody would say, "Man, you should bring a girl out there. It's a mattress." And, you'd be like, "How's that supposed to work?" Some mattress in a weedy lot. That's not romantic (laughter). And, then there was a, there was, there was this elaborate sprinkler system, right. And, there's this, and there was water and kids were literally playing in this. And, we were like, "That is chemical water." That's some kind of fertilizer or something. So, like, I don't know what kind of chromosomal damage those kids got from playing in that water, but I knew not to get in it. And, on occasions you'd look down there and a snake would just pop out. We were like, "Ho! It's chemical water and it's a snake" (laughter). We were--they were like, "Whatever, it's all good," (laughter). Or, we would walk down to Lincoln Park [East St. Louis, Illinois], which was the park. And, none of us knew how to swim. But, each of us knew a little bit of how to swim. So, we were determined to teach each other how to swim. And, we each learned as much as three kids who don't know how to swim (laughter) could learn. Eventually, I took real swimming lessons but (laughter). So, yeah, it was, we had--and there were apple trees. So, there'd be apple wars where you know, you go--a big thing full of apples and they're hard apples, they're not ripe yet. So, you throw 'em (gesture), right and they would sting. So, you'd be running through the neighborhood (gesture), you know, hitting people, attacking people, which is, you know--and, that's not nearly as bad a chat war. And, chat are those little smooth stones that you put in a driveway or whatever. And, now that could put your eye out (laughter). So, there would be that kind of action too.$$So, you're describing a typically boy, young, adventuresome boys--?$$(Nods head).$$Playing, playing in the neighborhood.$$I mean, there were some like heavier stuff like, the park I remember, you know, occasionally they'd be like a gang fight and they'd be some people pulling out guns and stuff. So, yeah, it sometimes it would go to another level. But, again, that's before drugs became big. I mean, in the '60s [1960s] it was not the same kind of thing as later when drugs drove the stakes up really high.$And, then 'She's Gotta Have It' came out and everything changes.$$So, tel- that's what I was gonna ask 'cause 'She's Gotta Have It' came out in 1985 [sic. 1986].$$Um-hm.$$Right? So, what does that, what do you mean by everything changes?$$Well, all of sudden Hollywood's like, "Hey, there's another kind of filmmaker that's resonating with the audience. We don't know how to make that. Let's figure out who these people are. Is there another one? Can we buy it?" I remember a big party at Nelson George's house and, you know, Nelson is the hub of all things. In fact, if you haven't done Nelson, you really--$$We haven't done--I don't remember--$$That's the number one person you need to profile in this thing (laughter). It's like what you need, a day (laughter). So, we're at Nelson's house, so [HistoryMaker] Russell Simmons is there. And, I know he's working on--he's planning this movie called 'Tougher Than Leather,' and I'm pleading with him to let him--let me direct 'Tougher Than Leather.' He's like no my partner is gonna direct it. And, later I find out he's just like, "Who's this Harvard [Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts] guy? He doesn't know anything about hip hop and wants to do this movie?" So, I was like--and, Spike [Spike Lee] gives me script. 'Cause Spike lives down the street.$$Now, do you--how did you meet Spike? Like, I mean, do you know him at this point? And, I'm just wondering if he was in the BFF [Black Filmmaker Foundation] circle or not?$$Yeah. What happened was, Warrington [Hudlin's brother, Warrington Hudlin] in 1979, 1980, does this big film conference in New York [New York], and everyone's there. There's filmmakers from Africa, all kinds of folks. [HistoryMaker] Julie Dash is there. Just all kinds of folks are there. And, there is this film student from NYU [New York University, New York, New York], comes in at the last minute. Warrington waives the fee, lets him in. And, he shows his first film, 'The Answer,' which is a student film. He's doing it at NYU. So, that's when I meet Spike. So, Spike's there and he goes, "Yeah, A and M Films want me to do the Otis Redding story. I don't wanna do it. I gave him your name Reggie [HistoryMaker Reginald Hudlin]. Here's the script." So, I'm like, 'Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay' [ph.]. Fine, I'm in." So, I'm so--I call them up--$$Wait, but year is this? I'm sorry.$$Oh, I'm sorry. This was (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) 'Sittin' on the Dock of Bay'? I mean--okay.$$No, no. This was, this was--$$Is this, this is not a--$$This is eighty--what year did 'She's Gotta Have It' come out?$$Eighty-five [1985].$$Yeah. Eighty-five [1985]. It's '85 [1985].$$Okay.$$So, I called them on Sunday. (Laughter) 'Cause I'm like, "Hey, I want a job." So, finally I get a call back. And, they go--I said, "Well, I love Otis Redding." They said, "Okay. But, we're not doing that movie. We're gonna do a movie, 'Janet Jackson and The Time'." I'm like, "Whoa. That beats Otis, Otis Redding any day," (laughter). So, I get my--they fly me out to Hollywood. I get my first Hollywood job writing the movie 'Janet Jackson and The Time,' which never happens. But, the money from writing that script--for, A, I learned how to write a script. I had never written hundred pages of anything--$$Wait a minute, okay. Okay, Spike Lee has success with 'She's Gotta Have It,' okay. Then they contact him, am I--$$About an Otis Redding movie.$$Otis Redding movie.$$So, I--$$But, he doesn't wanna do it?$$No. He says, "You should call Reggie, he's talented." So, I call them, they call me back. They say, "But, great we wanna meet with you but not about the Otis Redding movie. About this movie with Janet Jackson and The Time," which is a hundred times more interesting than Otis Redding. So, they fly me out, and A and M Films has the old Charlie Chaplin Studios [A and M Studios; Jim Henson Company Lot, Los Angeles, California].$$Can I just ask, are you showing anything? I mean, do they wanna see some of your work?$$Yeah. I showed 'em--$$Okay.$$--'House Party,' and you know.$$They like--okay.$$Yeah. Well, it was, you know, one of those people. It's interesting--$$(Laughter).$$--like now, if you've written a black play on the Chitlin' Circuit like Tyler Perry, you can get a job in Hollywood, okay. So, that's what it was for black film in '85 [1985]. So, they were like, like you're a kid, you're paying your tui- like, nothing to lose, right. So, they fly me out, (makes noise) give me the job. I'm like, "How can I write a hundred pages?" If, if you took everything I wrote all together it's not a hundred pages (laughter), right. So, I write this script. It's a hundred and fifty pages of mess. So, the executive works with me and we beat it into shape. And, you know, and it's still not great but, it's a, kind of a movie. But, then you know, it goes nowhere, right. But, with that movie, I have enough money to buy a computer. And, with a computer I can write, I don't have to write longhand and ask some friend of my brother's to type it on a computer. So, I buy a computer, and that's then I write the spec for 'House Party.'$$So, how much did you get paid on that job? That first job, do you remember?$$Forty thousand dollars I think, forty-five thousand, something like that. They just gave me money. I mean, from what I've been living on. You know, 'cause I said, "I can buy a computer and still catch cabs." 'Cause, I always says, "My thing is like, I'm the guy going home with my date at three in the morning on the subway." So, I'm like, "I can catch a subway [sic. cab] late at night." I was living. I was balling out. I could eat in a restaurant. (Laughter) You know, I was balling out.