“DEADLINE: Here you have one of the best-reviewed studio movies this year, your Hollywood premiere this week was the hottest ticket in town. And yet the narrative in the Hollywood trades has been about heightened security at that premiere, and concerns about theater violence heading into this weekend. There have been outrageous gun violence tragedies in movie theaters the past few years, but all the shooters were white. Is this racist? Unfair?
GRAY: I read a couple of those headlines and thought, wow, now you’re grasping for straws, trying to create something that’s just not there. The response to the movie has been great, we’ve enjoyed standing ovations around the nation, and so many people are saying how positive it is. Oprah called it powerful, black churches are supporting the film, and people are coming out of the woodwork who wouldn’t ordinarily endorse or be associated with gangsta rap, street rap or this genre of music. I think maybe there’s something good here and they’re trying to find something that isn’t there. It’s just not there. We had an amazing premiere; I’d never experienced anything like it, extremely cool and positive. It went off without a hitch, everybody enjoyed themselves. There wasn’t an incident to report. I guess they wanted to find something and so they say, ‘Wow, they had a lot of security there.’ I don’t know if it’s par for the course, I don’t know if it’s specific to this movie, but I am not really focused on that. I’m happy people are walking away feeling energized and … surprised.
They’ve told us this was more than they expected, that it went beyond a rap movie or a music biopic, and that’s what I’m focused on…”