Producer/executive producer Tracy Oliver said that his new Amazon comedy series “Harlem” probably wouldn’t have happened without the success of his film “Girls Trip”.
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“It was a beautiful astronomical change [to my life], Came after ‘Girls Trip’. Suddenly I could take out the show and sell it,” Oliver told The Post.
“NS [‘Harlem] The Script Was Written Two Years Before ‘Girls Trip’ And There Was No Instance Of A Black Female Friendship [shows or movies] working like this. So, people were like, ‘I think it’s niche, I don’t think there’s a huge audience for it.’ After “Girls Trip,” it’s easy to tell people, ‘There’s an audience for this stuff. It doesn’t have to be niche.'”
The 2017 comedy starring Tiffany Haddish, Queen Latifah and Jada Pinkett Smith marked the first time a film written by an African-American woman earned more than $100 million at the box office.
“It’s been incredible to see this transformation,” said Oliver, who made her debut on “Awkward Black Girl,” Issa Rae’s web series “Insecure.”
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“I met Rami” [Youssef] On a panel that we did together, and we were celebrating the fact that two niche people get to do something at the mainstream level. It was a good moment for both of us to have this conversation. Years ago—not that long ago— ‘Frames’ And ‘Girls Trip’ doesn’t exist.”
Much like “Girls Trip,” “Harlem” (out Friday, December 3) is a half-hour comedy that centers on a group of women navigating their love lives and careers: human beings at Columbia University. There’s science professor Camille (Megan Good), who’s struggling with her dating life; Tye (Jerry Johnson), a tech entrepreneur with an LGBTQ+ dating app; Quinn (Grace Byers) who has a fashion design business she’s struggling with; and flamboyant singer/actress Angie (Shonika Shandai).
Oliver, who grew up in South Carolina, said he weaved the characteristics of himself and his friends into “Harlem” characters.
“Nobody wants to see a South Carolina-set show,” she said. “It was a joke. I felt like I got older in New York and Harlem. All the important experiences in my life happened in my 20s, and that was me hanging out with friends in New York. There’s no other city like this “
Of the central characters, she is very similar to Camille, she said.
“I used to cry every birthday, because I hated growing up. I set all these goals when I was a kid which was unrealistic — but I thought based on a ’90s rom com that it was going to happen to me,” she said. “And when they weren’t going according to plan, I was panicking. I can be Type-A like Camille. In the first season, we find her coming to terms with the fact that her romantic relationship and her Career is not going as per plan. I was there when I wrote that script.
“We did an episode [where] We wanted to challenge the idea that black women should always be strong and fierce,” she said. “It became a compliment to be a strong black woman, but all that was doing us was our vulnerability and pain and Was deprived of moments of weakness. We all have them, and that’s okay. But in the process of trying to uplift, it became harder for black women to be vulnerable. This may be considered controversial, but I am proud of the messaging [in that episode],
In addition to “Harlem,” Oliver also has a deal with Apple TV+ and is developing a pilot for that platform. She’s also starring in the action film “Extreme Job” with Kevin Hart and she hopes to follow up on “Girls Trip.”
“My understanding is that everyone is on board,” she said. “Last time I spoke to Tiffany Haddish, she really wanted to do that and was just trying to figure out the right window. And studios have to figure out the budget — that’s always the conversation. First. For, I’ll be honest, none of us really made money out of it. Because the budget was low and the studio didn’t know whether it would be a success or not.”