Tony Award-Winning Black Actress Produces Horror Film about American Politics


Tony award-winning Black actress Tonya Pinkins has written, directed, and produced her first feature film that was released this fall. “Red Pill,” a horror, was from its inception in 2019 a terrifying wake-up call about American politics. The remarkably prescient film about the current political climate is profoundly relevant right now. The weaponization of Whiteness and White supremacy themes in the film resonate with today’s fervor, particularly following the 2020 election and its aftermath. The Becky/Karen trope known all people of color assumes a place of surprised awareness in White consciousness. Watch the trailer here. Press photos here.

It’s Halloween weekend just days before the 2020 election. An intersectional posse of progressive canvassers drive to Virginia to get out the vote. As soon as they cross the state line it is clear they are not welcome. Distressing clues indicate that they should get out of their rental house while the getting is good. They decide to stay, armed with their heart, humor, and naiveté. But what they really need is heavy artillery.

“I wrote my own personal get out,” says Pinkins. “#Uprising2020 is White people waking up to the world Black and Brown folks have always known. Black women are intimately familiar with ‘Becky’ and ‘Karen,’ White women, who on the low end of the spectrum treat us as invisible, and on the high end weaponize their Whiteness and sometimes cost us our lives. Red Pill’s #Karensgonewild is a dose of what’s coming to America if liberal Whites don’t wake up.”

“Red Pill” was completed in September and features the work of a very talented cast and crew.

Eight-time Grammy award-winning Latin music star Rubén Blades (“Fear the Walking Dead”), Catherine Curtain (“Orange is the New Black,” “Stranger Things,” “Homeland”), Kathryn Erbe (“Law & Order: Criminal Intent”), Tonya Pinkins (“Fear The Walking Dead,” “Madame Secretary”), Colby Minifie (“The Boys,” “Fear the Walking Dead”), Luba Mason (“Person of Interest,” “NYPD Blue”), Jake O’Flaherty (“Criminal Minds,” “Shameless”) and Adesola Osakalumi (“Sex & The City 2,” “Ice”).

Tonya Pinkins is a multi-award-winning actress, author, and educator. She is a 2019-2022 Fulbright specialist. Her short film, “What Came After,” which she produced, directed, and adapted with Christopher Oscar Pena from his play, premiered at The New York Short Festival in 2016 and was an official selection in 2017 Sociopolitical Short Festival, Artemis Women in Action Film Festival, National Black Film Festival – Houston, Equality Film Festival, Blow-Up International Arthouse Festival – Chicago, Womyn in Media Newark, Women’s Only Entertainment Film Festival, Queens World Film festival, New Filmmakers New York Festival and WIM-Ns Women’s Film Festival. She directed “Lighthouse Lili” for RipFEST. Tonya has trained with esteemed directors such as Michael Satrazemis (producing director “Fear of the Walking Dead”), Charlotte Brandstrom (“Madam Secretary”), Melanie Mayron (“Famous In Love”), and Nick Copus (“Gotham”).

Pinkins co-wrote, produced and directed “Truth and Reconciliation of Womyn” (The Tank, Deepak Home Base, The Commons, and The #HealMeToo Festival). She has directed: “Till We Meet Again at the 14th Street Y;” “Paul Robeson: The Opera” at Trilogy Opera Company; “Bring It On” at Black Spectrum Theater; “Exit: An Illusion by Marita Bonner” for American Bard Theater’s “Visionary Voices;” “The Gospel According to Miss Roj from The Colored Museum” for Project One Voice at The Kimble Theater; “Vagina Monologues” for V-Day at The World Health Ministry Conference in Mexico; “A Visit Home by Jeffrey Sweet” at New Eclectic Voices; “The Klucking of Hens” by Carol Lockwood at New Professional Theater and many others.

Tonya is a Tony, Obie Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, and Lortel Award-winning actor. She teaches privately and at The Atlantic Theater School’s NYU program. Tonya is the author of “Get Over Yourself: How to Drop The Drama and Claim The Life You Deserve” (Hachette Books). Tonya works with The African American Policy Forum and actively supports #SayHerName and TheMovementForBlackLives among other causes and organizations.

Pinkins socio-political horror film, “Red Pill,” stars Catherine Curtin, Kathryn Erbe Colby Minifie, Luba Mason, Adesola Osakalumi, Jake O’Flaherty, Tonya Pinkins, and Rubén Blades.

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Special to the AFRO