By Amber Tucker, NewsVision Reporter and Kyle Hudson, Howard University News Service
Video by Amber Tucker, NewsVision Reporter
Washington DC– Just a week after she was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, members of the Howard University and D.C. communities filled the Regal Cinemas Gallery Place Theater last Thursday for the premiere of Taraji P. Henson’s new film “What Men Want” and a discussion about gender discrimination and inequality.
“What Men Want” tells the story of Ali Davis (played by Henson), a successful sports agent who endures a significant amount of discrimination from her white male counterparts in the workplace. However, when Davis uncovers the ability to hear men’s thoughts, she uses it to her advantage to gain the respect of her colleagues and maneuver her way to a well-deserved promotion.
“I like to tackle tough and relevant cultural issues with comedy,” said Adam Shankman, director of the film. “I wanted to make sure that we were making a movie that wasn’t man bashing but also wasn’t about a woman who was made whole by the love of a man.”
Henson, who has experienced workplace discrimination herself, said her experience at Howard University made her “fearless” and reminds young black girls going into any industry to “fight like a girl” when faced with adversity.
“You have to play hardball. You can’t be afraid to say no…and you must know your worth,” said Henson.
The Howard University community showed massive support for Henson at Thursday’s screening including President Wayne A.I. Frederick, who said that there are major changes coming to the university’s Fine Arts department.
“One of the things that I wanted to do was see us revisit the issue of not having a College of Fine Arts and successfully getting the Board of Trustees to agree to that,” said Frederick. “It’s not just about bringing back the College of Fine Arts. We have to have a building and facilities to reflect that as well…so that students and faculty can produce content.”
Following the screening, both Henson and Shankman engaged in a question and answer discussion, moderated by Howard University School of Communications Assistant Professor Jennifer Thomas, where they shared their experiences while filming the movie and gave students and the audience advice on achieving their goals and maneuvering the workforce.
“What Men Want” opens everywhere Feb. 8. Check your local listings for showtimes and more information.