Conversation with . . . Kenneth Rance

6 02 2009

While opportunities for African-Americans actors are scarce, imagine what Black writers are going through trying to get their stories told. “New in Town” co-screenwriter is one of the lucky few whose work made it to the big screen.

As one of the screenwriters on “New in Town,” which stars Renee Zellweger, Kenneth Rance is in a rare position. There aren’t that many African American screenwriters who do Hollywood films, let alone a film that stars and feature an all-white cast.

Co-produced by Tracey Edmonds, Lucy Hill (Renée Zellweger) is an ambitious, up and coming executive living in Miami. She loves her shoes, she loves her cars and she loves climbing the corporate ladder. When she is offered a temporary assignment – in the middle of nowhere – to restructure a manufacturing plant, she jumps at the opportunity, knowing that a big promotion is close at hand. What begins as a straight forward job assignment becomes a life changing experience as Lucy discovers greater meaning in her life and most unexpectedly, the man of her dreams (Harry Connick, Jr.).

In speaking with Tara Harris, Rance spoke about writing the film and working with Tracey Edmonds.

Regarding the film and the economy right now, the thing that I found so timely is the fact that the characters had to become more resourceful. Do you think that will have an effect on people, not even just looking at it from the perspective of the executives, but the actual employees. Do you think they’ll see that and think, Well, maybe we can come up with something . . .

Ken Rance: Yeah, I think it’s going to have to be a collaborative effort right now – the foreclosure crisis, the credit crisis, the financial crisis. This is not just a United States issue. This is a global issue. Both workers and management are going to have to contend with concessions and work together. I don’t think this film could be any more socioeconomically relevant of what is taking place. My family’s from Detroit, and in some capacity, they work for the auto industry – whether they’re making the cars, whether they’re doing the bank loans for the cars, whether they’re painting the cars and selling them, et cetera. And they’re impacted by that. Hopefully, this will be a wake-up call, not only for workers, but for corporate America. It’s just good ol’ American greed. And worker’s rights – those people need health insurance, they need to have money for retirement, they need to have futures for their children and to be able to send them to school and to be able to, in essence, grasp the American dream.

As far as Tracey Edmonds being a producer on this film, did you seek her out or did she come to you?

KR: Darryl Taja, who is one of the producers on the film, Darryl and I went to Howard University, he’s one of my best friends from college. I brought the script to him, and we developed it for about a year, and that’s when he reached out to Tracey and they partnered and then Scott Stuber at Universal bought the screenplay preemptively and he took it to Universal and developed it.

To read the rest of the interview, click here.




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