JAY-Z on Showcasing Black History and Representation in New Western ‘The Harder They Fall

With The Harder They Fall, JAY-Z has his sights set on showcasing some real history. As a producer on the project, the media mogul is looking to bring audiences a Western that shows the real diversity of America at the time.

ET’s Kevin Frazier spoke with JAY-Z at a special screening of The Harder They Fall at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles on Wednesday, and he opened up about helping to create an action-packed Western with an all-Black cast.

“I love to be apart of projects that widen the lens,” JAY-Z shared. “Once it’s widened for us, it’s widened for Asians. For Mexicans. For everyone.”

As the artist and entrepreneur explained, its estimated that one in three cowboys in the period generally known as the Wild West were Black, “So this really existed.”

However, for nearly as long as Hollywood has been retelling stories of the wild frontier, outlaws and gunslingers, there’s been a whitewashing of the role Black men and women played during the era

“[For years], one of the only things on public television was Westerns, every week, and we weren’t represented in those at all,” JAY-Z reflected. “In fact, our characters were taken from us. The Lone Ranger was based on one of the characters from this film.”

In reality, the Lone Ranger is believed by many historians to have been inspired by the real-life lawman Bass Reeves — portrayed by Delroy Lindo in The Harder They Fall.

JAY-Z also recalled the process of collaborating with the film’s director, Jeymes Samuel, who makes his feature directorial debut with this ambitious project.

“We have a love of film and music,” JAY-Z explained. “It doesn’t feel like work when we’re bouncing ideas off each other and talking shop.”

JAY-Z’s mother-in-law, Tina Knowles, came out to show her support for the project on Wednesday, and spoke with ET about the film’s representation of historical figures.

“Black cowboys have kind of been left out of the history, and it’s so important to tell his story because they played a big role… and to just acknowledge them is amazing,” she shared. “I can’t wait to see this movie. I know that, with the cast that’s in it, that they’re going to kill it, and it’s just an important story to be told.”

“I’m just so excited and so proud of my son-in-law,” she added with a smile.

Check out the video below to hear more.

The Harder They Fall — featuring an all-star ensemble cast including Jonathan Majors, Idris Elba, Regina King, Zazie Beetz and Lakeith Stanfield — premieres in select theaters on Oct. 22 and on Netflix Nov.

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