Little is all about Black Girl Magic, literally. It was pitched by a then-10-year-old Black girl, Marsai Martin (Black-ish) — she’s also star and an executive producer of the new film. Plus, the director, writers, actors (including stars Issa Rae and Regina Hall), costume designers, and more are Black women. The movie is also literally about magic that changes an adult woman back into her teenage self. And on top of all of that, Little is supporting female creators in a subtle way by weaving in the work of women, particularly Black women, wherever its director possibly can.
It should come as no surprise that during Refinery29’s visit to the Little set in July, the phrase “Black Girl Magic” was dropped often, including by director Tina Gordon. Gordon, who also co-wrote the film and is known for directing Peeples and writing Drumline, also took a moment to explain to reporters the way in which she made a point to include women’s work in every detail of the film. And I mean every detail.
“Any black girl knows [when you’re] trying to make something in this world, you’re like, OK to achieve this, it’s going to be a miracle,” Gordon explained. “And so we just embraced that and found artists, production designers, costume designers. Everything you see on the wall, the wine that even is used in the movie, it’s young black women, women of all colors, that came together to sort of support that idea.”
But Gordon didn’t just throw anything that fit the bill into her movie; she put in the time to search for artists and makers who would truly fit. She even found one artist by scouring Instagram. “I feel like it’s details that you end up feeling in the movie. Like you come in the set and you’ll see like a black girl Einstein on the wall and it touches you a little bit,” she continued. “The wine that we used, it’s black women winemakers in Napa that gave us the wine. And so it’s just like all these little details that came to support Marsai and this idea. It’s all over. It’s in the clothes, on the walls, the behind-the-scenes women. It’s just kind of everywhere.”
Producer Will Packer (Girls Trip, Think Like A Man) credits Gordon for making it known that including these women was important to her, because otherwise, it wouldn’t have happened. “A lot of the things that you don’t always see but that are so important to the fabric of the movie, if you don’t have a director who says that’s important, then those people never get a chance,” Packer explained. “They would never get a voice. If you have a director who says, ‘I want to have that in the DNA of my movie,' those people get work.”
Gordon's choice, it would seem, was inspired by the vision 14-year-old Martin exhibited when she first came up with the idea for the film, before she, her father, and Kenya Barris (the creator of Black-ish) pitched the idea to Packer, who said he “could see the movie even back then.”
“Marsai herself doing that was like magical,” Gordon said, and that magic made it into every corner of her process. “If we have a platform to say, ‘Hey, we’re doing this thing over here’... I’m like, ‘Yeah, let’s do that and let’s reach and find more women and just put them everywhere.’”
It’s a message anyone — filmmaker or not — can learn from: Use your platform, whatever it is, to support others. It’s a message anyone — filmmaker or not — can learn from: Use your platform, whatever it is, to support others. When Little hits theaters on April 12, the film will stand on its own, but those in the know will be able to spot the contributions of these women. So, you know, make sure you’re on the lookout for that wine.