Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Your Intrepid(?) Blogger Attends the Premier of Queen Sugar

Last night, Joni and I had the opportunity to attend the premier of Queen Sugar on Oprah's TV network, OWN.  It took place at the Fillmore Heritage Center in San Francisco.  For those that don't remember the story.  Natalie Baszile published Queen Sugar in 2014. Our book club, the RBC, had the privilege of having Natalie as our December, 2014 author.  Everybody loved both the book and Natalie. Then, just a month later, she came back to the South Bay (from SF) to appear at the book club of one of our founding RBC members, Janet.  So Joni and I got to see Natalie again.  Then, in the 1st half of last year, Oprah picked up Queen Sugar to turn it into a series on her network. And the director she picked was Ava Duvernay, who directed the movie Selma.  Well, last night was a combination cocktail party, airing of episode 1, and a Q&A with Natalie.  It was a great evening.  We learned a bunch of stuff from Natalie:

1.  The idea for the book came to Natalie when she was visiting Louisiana back in 2005 and stumbled onto a sugar cane farm.  That is the premise for the book.
2.  A man that Natalie met at that time spent 6 years teaching her about the sugar cane farming business, which she needed in order to make the book realistic.
3.  The 1st season, which started last night, will run 13 episodes.  And it's already been renewed for season 2!
4.  Ava and all of the other directors are women.  Ava is breaking down the barriers for female directors in Hollywood.
5.  Although a number of changes were made from the book to the TV show, the core principles and values that Natalie wrote about were kept by Ava and crew.
6.  The actor who plays Ralph Angel, who is a central figure, asked Natalie on set if there was anything she could tell him about the character to help him with his portrayal.

Natalie told one funny story.  She had an opportunity to spend some time with Oprah at her estate in Montecito.  After they took a walk, they came back and sat in the study.  Oprah's assistant (butler?) asked Natalie what she would like to drink.  Natalie, being like the rest of us, said "What do you have?"  The assistant looked quizzically at Natalie, hesitated for a moment, and said:  "Everything."  Natalie's thought was "Of course you have everything."

Natalie was asked if she had advice for new writers.  She said 2 things - write every day and follow your passion.  That sure sounds like good advice to me.

Okay, here are a few pictures from the event.


  1. Wow, what an exciting event!! I don't think we get OWN but I'll have to check to see. Baszile sounds dedicated to her craft - spending 6 years to learn about sugar cane farming.

    1. The 1st episode was good. The TV critic for our local paper thought that the show definitely got better as it went along. Did you read the book? I liked it a lot.

  2. What a fun evening for you and Joni!