Shareif Ziyadat/Getty Image JAY-Z
JAY-Z is stressing the importance of learning Black history ahead of his upcoming film, The Harder They Fall.
On Wednesday, the 51-year-old rapper and entrepreneur spoke to Entertainment Tonight about co-producing the action-packed Western movie during a special screening of the project in Los Angeles. JAY-Z explained that he's hoping his film — which features an all-Black cast — can show the importance of representation.
"I love to be a part of projects that widen the lens," he told the outlet. "Once it's widened for us, it's widened for Asians. For Mexicans. For everyone."
DAVID LEE/NETFLIX Regina King, Idris Elba, LaKeith Stanfield
JAY-Z went on to discuss the need for both Black representation and knowledge of Black history. He shared that one in three cowboys during that era was Black, despite a long history of Western films in Hollywood having little to no Black cast members, adding that no one is at fault for not knowing because "that was the image we were fed growing up."
"[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 shared during the interview. "In fact, our characters were taken from us. The Lone Ranger was based on one of the characters from this film."
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During Wednesday's screening, Tina Knowles-Lawson also spoke to ET about supporting JAY-Z and the diversity that is highlighted in the film.
"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 told the outlet. "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."
She added, "I'm just so excited and so proud of my son-in-law."
In the trailer, which debuted last month, King plays "Treacherous" Trudy Smith who breaks Elba's Rufus Buck from prison as he's being moved in a train. Buck's escape causes another outlaw, Nat Love (Jonathan Majors), to set off on a quest for revenge against Buck.
The two men and their respective gangs come head to head in a war that threatens to claim the lives of anyone who gets in their way.
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The Netflix film marks the directorial debut for Jeymes Samuel, who also cowrote the film with Boaz Yakin.
Samuel also works under the name The Bullitts as a singer-songwriter. He previously collaborated with JAY-Z on The Great Gatsby, with the duo teaming back up again to write and produce original music for The Harder They Fall.
The Western also stars LaKeith Stanfield, Zazie Beetz, Edi Gathegi, R.J. Cyler, Delroy Lindo, Danielle Deadwyler, Deon Cole and Damon Wayans Jr.
The Harder They Fall starts streaming on Netflix on November 3.