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'Dear Mama' Director Alan Hughes on Tupac Shakur's Legacy: 'He Lived More in a Day Than Most of the Year'

to FX/Hulu’s Dear Mama: The Saga of Afeni and Tupac Shakur for the fifth and final episode At the end of the episode , director Allen Hughes stepped out from behind the camera and gave Afeni’s sister Glo a big hug. She could no longer hold back the tears as she recalled the tragic and extraordinary life of her sister and only nephew. Throughout the documentary series, her voice is direct and sonorous, finally cracking. “We were left to tell the story,” Glo said, standing up because she had said all she could.

Revisiting Parker’s life, and all the tragic headlines that come with it, is probably an unnecessary effort. Yet, to fully understand Tupac’s journey through Hughes’ lens, it’s important to understand the lives of Affinis and how their lives inspired revolutionary spirits around the world. “You see those Tupac murals in Africa, you see them in Asia, you see them all over Europe and South America, and now I know what people see — they see symbols of global rebellion,” said co-director Hughes Menace II Society and Dead Presidents and his brother Albert. “When I started this project, I didn’t know that. I asked myself, ‘If I do it the right way, what is the thing that everyone can understand? It all comes back to them as social justice fighters.”

Through a series of interviews with Afeni’s former Black Panther comrades, Hughes explores how her civil rights activism influenced Tupac’s core values ​​while also Addresses the negative external forces that prevent a poet from turning into a rapper. The director has experienced these forces firsthand. Hughes’ relationship with Tupac began , when he directed Tupac’s first videos, “Trapped” and “Brenda Has a Baby.” In these scenes, Hughes sees an immediate appeal, for better or worse, that draws people to Tupac. Their relationship will remain intact until 1971 a fatal The incident, when Hughes was viciously attacked by gang members who had infiltrated Tupac’s inner circle. Hughes won’t speak to Tupac again. Dear Mama contains a rare moment where a documentary filmmaker sits on the cusp and finally shares what happened. The revelation was brief, but illuminated the complexity of the late star.

Allen Hughes

Alan Hughes Ryan Emberly/Getty Images

Hughes and THR discusses getting Tupac and his mother’s story right, having the final say, and why their spirit lives on. Allen Hughes

It’s almost there Allen Hughes years after Tupac’s death. What made you want to tell the story of Tupac and Afeni Shakur now? Allen Hughes

I was raised by an activist single mother big. She was at the forefront of the feminist and women’s rights movement. I relate to this, and the first eight years of my adolescence, years of my life when we were on welfare. I can relate to the fight against poverty. But I always felt like I wanted to get to know Tupac. I think he’s one of the most misunderstood characters in the century. I think I’ll discover him through his mother. I can’t find him through hip-hop, I can’t find him through murder investigations or all the shit I’ve done before – I can only find him through Afeni. I was surprised by her revelation since I knew nothing about her before I started.

You have so many shots that have never been seen before. Why is it considered a series and not a function?

Many people will say, “Why do you have five parts Speaking of this? He just 25.” I keep telling people it’s also about his mother, about the Black Panther history. There’s civil rights history there. We’re going back to ’71 pass’60s, through ’80Enter’71s. It’s a double narrative. I know of no way to do this in a function. It is impossible to really do deep diving.

As a young filmmaker, what drew you to Tupac?

I knew I would sneak off to Detroit On the street, watch the drug dealers, pimps, crooks, missionaries and whores. Where the color is, there I am; where the charm is, there I am. I didn’t realize for a while that you could find great characters and great stories out there. I’m always obsessed with narrative, I don’t know what that is. When the Digital Underground crew and I met Tupac at a waffle house, he wasn’t famous. He’s just some 25 year olds are at the end of the table. But you can’t stop laughing, he’s laughing at everyone. It begs the question: who are you? It’s that magical energy. He told me he’d seen our film [the Hughes brothers directed two short films], he’d just signed a record deal, and he wanted us to do his first music video. I’m like ( contemptuously ), “Yes, yes.” But I was carried away by him. In our first ever music video, I kept saying, “Where’s Tupac? Where’s Tupac?” Shock G, Money-B, all the stars were there, and I was like, “Where’s Tupac?” “[When] he got there, I put him in the middle of the scene, and that started our friendship. very clear. It’s like saying, how do you know it’s on fire? You can feel the heat. Allen HughesAllen Hughes


Young Tupac Shakur . Provided by FX

A young Tupac Shakur. Let’s move on to Tupac’s crew before he feels slighted because you didn’t put him in

THREATS II SOCIETY A young Tupac Shakur.. existDear mother, you said you didn’t want to talk to him afterwards. How did you reconcile with someone who was once your friend, especially after his death?

I went to the hospital when this happened. You can imagine 10, Guys roll you up like a burrito. It’s not very pretty. I was mad at him because I thought, “Why did you bring it up there?” I offered to meet him one-on-one at the park. That’s how I ended up going to court because he wouldn’t see me. Obviously, he wasn’t ready yet. A few weeks later, I was in Cannes with my brother. We’re all on TV, on the Today show. We have the hottest movies in town. I didn’t have time to think about [that attack], and frankly, I never really felt the trauma of it. Allen Hughes

Years later, I’m cutting [the 2017Document series] Rebels , Tupac in part three. He’s been in charge of the movie; for a few months, he’ll take over the entire narrative. I thought, “This movie isn’t about him. What the hell is going on?” We were wrestling with him, and that was the first time the light bulb went off [I should get past our history and tell the full story of Tupac]. Allen Hughes

Now that the documentary series is on, do you think Tupac is doing the right thing ?

My heart goes out to him. Frankly, I didn’t before. I just don’t. I didn’t mean to, it just happened naturally. Sometimes I cry when I [see] footage from the mixing stage. I thought, “Damn, why am I crying?” because I can see it now. In making this film and this series, the most important thing to me is this: A lot of black history has been erased. we know. But women’s history in particular has been erased — and I know that growing up being a feminist, radical, amazing woman like my mother.

But the history of black women? I asked out loud, “How the hell did I never teach this woman and what she did in court?” [When she 25, Afeni Shakur with 125 On behalf of myself-023 The trial involved several counts of conspiracy, for which she was acquitted. ] at the forefront alongside her civil rights brothers and sisters — that account alone, along with her calm and unexpected wit, deserves a chapter in these history books. I have always cherished the erasure of black history and the erasure of the history of people of color, especially recently, but I am even more sensitive to the erasure of the history of women of color. That’s what’s been pissing me off lately because I’m seeing people’s reactions to the movie now and what people say about her and how they respect her as a woman and her journey. break my heart.

Allen Hughes

Afinishakur (seated, center) with her fellow panthers at 250. Supplied by FX

One last thing: You think you’ve told Tupac The defining story of Shakur’s life?

I absolutely believe this is about Tupac and his journey Definitive story. But he lived longer in a day than most of us in a year. I’m sure there will be other stories that are equally instructive. There are many stories there, and the story of Afeni. I think when someone is so dynamic and so complex and so fiery, by far that’s the ultimate story.

Interview edited for length and clarity.

This story first appeared in the May issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive this magazine, A young Tupac Shakur. click here to subscribe .



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