We had the good fortune of connecting with Larry McGee and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Larry, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?

Growing up, I just never saw the world for face value. I always imagined there was more. More to see, do, hear, eat, and experience. Maybe it started because my mom is an avid reader and although I don’t read as much as her, I’ve always been fully invested in the stories storytelling.

We moved from Mississippi to Tennessee when I was seven years old. I would go back to Mississippi to visit often, and on those long six-hour drives my mom and brother, who has the memory of an elephant, would tell all these stories from back in the day. My memory hasn’t been as kind to me, so I often stayed out of the conversation, but I did listen. I listened and imagined. I imagined the sepia filter over a hot summer day with my 16-year-old mom pushing my older brother in a stroller to the mall to meet up with her friends. My mom and her friends would laugh and talk about how cute my brother was. I imagined him sitting up as a baby supporting his own neck with a set of four teeth in his mouth saying full sentences talking with them. You couldn’t tell me any of this wasn’t true. The stories in my head would grow from there and they would get pretty extravagant.

My mom started to recognize my imagination and she started to shape it. She would take us to the movies often. We’d go to Blockbuster or Hollywood Videos to celebrate big things in life as if it was an amusement park. She started to introduce me to black classics as we know them. The Wood, Love & Basketball, The Best Man, Poetic Justice, Skool Daze, What’s Love Got to Do With It?. If it had a black cast, she bought it. I would learn all the lines and I could reenact every scene. I know what you’re thinking, “You were too young to be watching those movies.” Yes, maybe, but you have to remember my parents were still pretty young and this was the 90s. My mom would make us cover our eyes on sex scenes but of course my brother and I would look through our fingers. It was all quite beautiful actually. My parents growing up with us and movies served as another parent.

From there I was hooked. I wanted to come up with my own stories. I wanted to add scenes that I felt were missing to movies. Once I found out that there was real money in the industry, the rest was literally history. I’m about to go out into the world and get paid! Call me Mr. Director!

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
The funny thing about art is how subjective it can be. I don’t pretend to be the worlds greatest artist. I understand that my art won’t be received by everyone. What I can say is I’m most proud that I have positioned myself for my voice to be heard. I’ve always wanted to have a say in the conversation. Now I’m in a position to shape the culture in which I love and it feels good. I’ve always been a huge fan of black classics like, Boyz n’ the Hood, Friday, and Love Jones. Those films changed the way the culture saw the hood, how we processed black trauma, black laughs, and black love. I can only hope to have as much influence on the culture.

Nothing about filmmaking is actually “easy”. It’s expensive, it’s stressful, it’s tiring. You have to have the stamina, the passion, and the drive to do this. The thing that has helped me the most in my career is staying busy and consistent. I once read that it takes 10,000 hours of dedication to something to become successful. After 10,000 hours of anything how can you be trash? I’ve simply been putting in my 10,000 hours. Reading scripts, shadowing other directors, questioning every creative decision on set to figure out the “why”. As a director, I tell my own stories, but I also interpret stories from others. Bringing words from page to screen. I’m excited what new collaborations come from someone reading this article, feeling my energy, and then allowing me to be the narrator of their story.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?

I’ve only been in LA for one year so far and 2 Two months of that I was working in Prague, CZ Czech Republic. The rest of the time I’ve been stuck on Amazon and Warner Brothers studio lots working. If anyone wants a studio tour hit me up, but if not, I’m taking any suggestions on things to do in LA. I moved from Brooklyn, so I’m in dire need of that block party, roof top brunch, black folks frolicking carefree vibes. Come over to my DMs and put me on game if you know where the vibes are.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?

I don’t always know what people see in me when they believe I have what it takes but those people’s belief in me goes much further than appreciation. I’ve been given opportunities that I’ve thought exceeded my wildest dreams. People have spoken life into me mentally, spiritually, and emotionally and for that all I can say is thank you.

I can’t fail, too many people have bet on me. I’ve bet on myself. I’m not stopping till there’s nowhere else to go. Then I’m going to circle back.

My mom and I are very close and I get my work ethic from both my parents, but she is built different. The thing about her is although she’s an introvert and far shyer than I until she is comfortable with you. She has always had dreams of more. Like most parents, her dreams were put on hold once she became pregnant. From there it was solely to provide and love up on her kids. I’ve always felt this energy and I told myself I would never stop chasing my dreams because she’s already paid the cost. She made sure to provide a solid household with my dad so we could have a safe space to be ourselves. She decided to give us everything regardless of what that left her with. Because of that, I simply can’t make her sacrifices be in vain. I have to retire my parents. Even if I don’t, I simply have to be my happiest, successful, dreamchasing self because that’s what she made her sacrifice for.

Instagram: @larryqmcgee

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