Cicely Tyson and young Skeeter in "The Help"

Cicely Tyson and young Skeeter in “The Help”

I’m continuing with the interview with DreamWorks CEO, Stacey Snider.  You can read part one regarding how the movie came to be made here and tough questions about race relations here.

The last scene of “The Help” ends with a powerful moment between a young girl and the African American woman who’s been caring for her.  As such, the scene speaks to the power of women and specifically mothers or those who play the mother role.

Stacey was asked if the themes of motherhood in the film affected her personally since she’s a mother herself.  Stacey replied, “Well, you know, I have two daughters.  I have a 12 year old and a 14 year old…and I relied on women to help me raise the kids and I’m a pretty good hands on get home, get your butt home mom.  But I’ve always felt like more love is good.  More people that know them, that love them; I know women who feel threatened by that.”  Stacey went on to tell us that her children’s caregiver, Jody, has been with them for 12 years and that, “…Jody and my husband and I have raised the girls together.

Jody plays the primary role of caregiver when Stacey is away but their values are comparable.  Jody will be leaving the family this year and it’s caused some emotions.  “It’s funny my big girl graduated from eight grade yesterday and they had that, as only teenagers get, I’m never gonna see my friends again – all the crying and then she got home and she saw Jody and she said and you’re leaving me too.  How can you leave me?”

Stacey said, “So you just want your kids to have that love and that wisdom and you’re grateful, you know, to the women that takes a mom passed away when I was 17 so I used to get in bed with the night nurse that helped me when the kids were young and I would sleep with her all night.  My husband was in the other room. It would be me and [the night nurse]  and the baby and she got me through such a scary time that I just was attached like a little kangaroo. I didn’t want to let her leave.”

One of the bloggers in the audience commented that she loved the movie and felt it talked to every mom.  It’s a mom’s responsibility to create caring children. Even if it means learning about the tough stuff in our history.  Stacey replied, “I agree. I showed it to my eleven year old the other night because my dad’s in town and he wanted to see it.  She’s 12 — sorry, I always forget..and I thought well, is Nat gonna understand this?  And she did understand it.”

Octavia Spencer as Minny Jackson in "The Help"

Octavia Spencer as Minny Jackson in “The Help”

Another blogger asked the pointed question also raised in the film.  Does it make sense to anyone  as to why black women were capable of raising their children but not using their toilets?   With a slight smile, Stacey replied, “It’s crazy…when Skeeter is talking to Mary Steenburgen and she says, you know, we love them, they raise our children, and yet we won’t let them use the toilet,”  the point is made.  She went on to say, “I mean when I was in Greenwood there’ would be women in the houses that we would go visit that we were shooting at and I would want to talk to them and say hello but there was such a barrier and it’s just a different culture. It’s just a different thing and it doesn’t make sense to me.”

A blogger related a story of how she and her sister-in-law, husband, and 7-year old son watched the trailer for the movie and the bathroom scene came up. The child asked, “Mama, why not? Why they couldn’t use it?”  So she and her husband talked to their son about it noting that there is no age too young to learn about prejudiced.  Stacey smiled and said, “Yeah, I agree and in some ways it’s an easy — it provides teachable moments that are easier sometimes than a textbook or a documentary.”

Ryan White – Image via Wikipedia

One woman blogger (me!) suggested that perhaps the thought of catching a disease may have been the reason for the fear of using a toilet after a black person, much like in the 1980’s when AIDS and the process for infection were unknown and people were ostracized because of ignorance.  Even children were treated harshly – Ryan White was one child who had to move school systems to find peace.  Stacey agreed, “Well I think subtly there’s also a message in there about education.  She [Skeeter] goes off to Old Miss….there’s no indication that Skeeter wouldn’t have been exactly like Elizabeth if she stayed.  It’s the fact that she went away, got out of that environment and got educated.”


THE HELP“ is rated PG-13 and opens in theatres in the US now

My review:  See it!


THE HELP DREAMWORKS PICTURES and participant media

  • Genre:                          Drama
  • Rating:                         PG-13
  • U.S. Release date:        August 10, 2011
  •  Cast:                            Jessica Chastain, Viola DavisBryce Dallas HowardAllison Janney, Chris Lowell, Sissy Spacek, Octavia SpencerEmma StoneCicely TysonMike Vogel
  • Director:                       Tate Taylor
  • Producers:                    Brunson Green, Chris Columbus, Michael Barnathan
  • Executive Producers:    Mark Radcliffe, Tate Taylor, L. Dean Jones Jr., Nate Berkus, Jennifer Blum, John Norris, Jeff Skoll and Mohamed Mubarak Al Mazrouei
  • Screenplay by:              Tate Taylor
  • Based on the novel by:  Kathryn Stockett

Based on one of the most talked about books in years and a #1 New York Times best-selling phenomenon,  “The Help” stars Emma Stone (“Easy A”) as Skeeter, Academy Award®–nominated Viola Davis (“Doubt”) as Aibileen and Octavia Spencer as Minny—three very different, extraordinary women in Mississippi during the 1960s,  who build an unlikely friendship around a secret writing project that breaks societal rules and puts them all at risk. From their improbable alliance a remarkable sisterhood emerges, instilling all of them with the courage to transcend the lines that define them, and the realization that sometimes those lines are made to be crossed—even if it means bringing everyone in town face-to-face with the changing times.

Deeply moving, filled with poignancy, humor and hope, “The Help” is a timeless and universal story about the ability to create change

Photo Credit:  DreamWorks Pictures – used with permission.