Neema Barnette may not be a household name, but you’ve seen her work. She’s one of the few African-American TV and film directors who’ve had a long-lasting Hollywood career.

Over the course of her two-decades in the business, she’s directed over 30 TV shows, TV movies and movies including episodes of “The Cosby Show” “A Different World” “Diagnosis Murder,” “The Cosby Mysteries” “The Gilmore Girls” and more.

This time out, she worked with producer T.D. Jakes and African-American distributor Code Black Entertainment to create ‘Woman Thou Art Loosed: On the 7th Day” starring Sharon Leal, Blair Underwood and Pam Grier. (Watch clip on page two.) We talked to Barnette about making the movie and making it in Hollywood. Read on.

How did you get involved in making this movie?

I directed another film that Jeff Clanaghan (of Code Black) was involved in called “Civil Brand.” Jeff and I took that long journey with “Civil Brand” and years later they called me and said T.D Jakes has a movie and I was in my Harlem apartment and I read the script and said “Umm, I don’t think so.” But I’m a fan of Bishop Jakes and Jeff and I have been through the wars together. When you’re doing a black film, you have to have warriors. I was interested and I took the gig last April and now a year later, I’m still working on it.

T.D. Jakes has a very specific sensibility as the pastor of a megachurch. How were you able to work with him on a film that includes infidelity, sexual abuse, and profanity?

I did an extensive rewrite as a consultant trying to strengthen the black male character and get a great actor to fill that role. I sent it to Blair and shockingly enough, he said he would do it. As we developed the film I had a couple meetings with Bishop Jakes and I read his books and I gave him my thoughts and after we began to shoot, Bishop Jakes visited the set and after consulting with him I told him I was going to do a rape scene and that was tricky, but I told him that I’d like to reach a larger audience with his message. And he agreed with me. He wanted the film to be real. He wanted people to look at this film and find some of their own lives in it. And in order to do that, we can’t preach to an audience. That’s his job, not ours.

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