• Film

Micheal Rice Unapologetically Amplifies Black Queer Voices in America

Micheal Rice started his career in theater and dance, but more recently the versatile artist has found a new creative outlet and spiritual calling as a documentary filmmaker highlighting stories of the LGBTQIA+ communities of color. His latest feature doc, Black as U R, is a powerful take on the intersection of being both Black and queer in America. The social justice doc has garnered accolades beyond the borders of America and thus far has won awards in 18 film festival across the globe. A dream came true for Rice when his idol and role model Billy Porter spotted the film and decided to step on board as the Executive Producer. The interview was conducted over Zoom.

Your background is in theater, dance and choreography. How did you transition into documentary filmmaking?

Dance to me is my God given gift, it’s what got me into the arts at first. It wasn’t until ten years ago that I decided to venture into the world of filmmaking, because I felt a need and desire to tell important stories about my own community.

How did that passionate call to activism translate into making Black as U R?

Black as U R highlights a world of Black LGBT people, fighting for rights and civil liberties within their own community and within their families; to be recognized, to be affirmed, and to be loved. I wanted to talk about something that was relatable for people who were not accepted by their families, particularly Black people. I focused on a Black trans woman named Iyanna Dior, who was brutally assaulted during the time of the Black Lives Matter protests. I felt it was somewhat hypocritical for some people within the Black community to fight for Black rights, but not fight for Black trans rights. All Black lives have value, no matter if they’re gay, straight or non-binary, trans or transgender. So, I wanted to stand up for them, voice that concern and talk to my community about what it really means to be Black and LGBTQ.


Do you feel that things are changing for the better?

I think when it comes to the social dynamic of having conversations and these nuanced conversations about being LGBTQ and Black, things are becoming better for the simple fact that social media is being used as a tool to shine a light on what’s actually happening in this country.  Yet at the same time, you have political demagogues like Ron DeSantis in Florida, who wants to ban gender-affirming care, drag performances and things of that nature, which somewhat tapers back a little bit. Still, I think we have progressed more than going back.

The fabulous Billy Porter came on board as executive producer on Black as U R. Why do you think he has become such a success and is so much loved?

Billy Porter garnered his success by entirely embracing himself, being totally unapologetic of who he is and how he is seen in this world. Being a mentor to me, I resonate with his life, it gives me momentum to do the same thing, to live unapologetic, to create and tell the stories of our people, no matter the circumstance. He told me, “The moment you truly become yourself and stop worrying about what others think about you is the moment you actually start living your life.” And when you’re living your life, you illuminate within the life that’s meant for you. To shine and illuminate can help many people, so that’s what I plan on doing with my life.