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Barry Jenkins says it’s about time Hollywood pays attention to black novels. ‘Beale Street’ is just a start

Barry Jenkins says it’s about time Hollywood pays attention to black novels. ‘Beale Street’ is just a start

When Barry Jenkins decided in 2013 that he absolutely needed to adapt James Baldwin's novel “If Beale Street Could Talk,” the director had made just one ultra-low-budget feature, and he certainly didn’t have the book rights from Baldwin's estate.

More to the point, Hollywood wasn't exactly searching out African American literature — despite the success as far back as 1985 for “The Color Purple,” the Steven Spielberg-directed film from Alice Walker’s novel, which earned 11 Academy Award nominations and more than $94 million at the U.S. box office.

Before 2016, when Denzel Washington turned “Fences” into a film with four Oscar nominations, including a supporting actress win...

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