Legendary Hollywood gems like the “Wizard Of Oz” and the Christmas classic “It’s A Wonderful Life” are both getting what director and writer Kenya Barris is calling a “diverse” reboot.
Speaking to Variety at the Sundance Film Festival, Barris confirmed he’s working on scripts for both films and giving the Judy Garland 1939 movie a new look with a story told from a “different point of a view.”
“The original ‘Wizard of Oz’ took place during the Great Depression and it was about self-reliance and what people were going through,” Barris told the outlet.
Filmmaker Kenya Barris is directing new “diverse” remakes of The Wizard Of Oz and It’s A Wonderful Life:
“I think this is a perfect time to sort of like switch off the characters…”
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“I think this is the perfect time to switch the characters and talk about what someone imagines their life could be,” he added. “It’s ultimately a hero’s journey, someone thinks something’s better than where they’re at, and they go and realize that where they’re at is where they should be.”
“I want people to be proud and happy about where they’re from,” Barris continued. “But I want the world to take a look at it and I hope that will come through.”
The “Black-ish” creator also talked about his remake of the 1946 Frank Capra classic starring Jimmy Stewart and said he plans to tell the story but with a “person of color” instead.
“I feel like Christmas movies are amazing and I think the idea of taking something that has that long of a history and a tale behind it and putting an amazing piece of talent to tell that story,” Barris said.
“It’s a guy who’s trying to help out his community and things are going to turn around on him,” he added. “I think that’s the perfect story to tell for a person of color — Black or brown — to get into that because our communities have some issues and someone trying to help that community out. I think that’s the perfect vehicle to tell that story from.”
During his appearance last year on “The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon,” Barris spoke a bit about one of the upcoming projects he was working on with “diverse” characters that was a twist on the “Wizard of Oz” story.
“I think that this is the best time to turn a mirror on society because we need to see ourselves, and I want to do it with diverse characters,” Barris said.
Barris told Fallon his version of Dorothy is a girl who “lives in Inglewood, and someone comes up and she ends up in Underhood, which is right outside of Oz, and it takes place from there.”
“I wanted to make people think, but also make them feel good, and also make people feel seen who hadn’t felt seen,” he added.