‘Drumline’ Director: “I Had To Create A White Character” In Order To Get Proper Budget

After 15 years, Drumline still remains a staple in pop culture’s realm of films. To break down how the captivating movie came to be, The Undefeated published an oral history with the players in front and behind the camera.

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Although interesting tidbits were revealed throughout the feature (like T.I. and a “really young Lil Wayne” auditioned for a role), one fact stood out the most. According to director Charles Stone III, 20th Century Fox wanted the film to include a white character in order to receive an increase in Drumline’s budget.

“The studio wanted a white character in the midst of this ensemble of color in order to support or give us the amount of money we wanted,” Stone said. “We needed $20 million to make it. They were offering us $15 million.” Stone added that “in order for me to get the additional $5 million, I had to create a white character.”

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Based off of super-producer Dallas Austin’s own melodic journey, he went out into the field to gain inspiration for writing a white character into Drumline’s script. “I said, ‘Let me see how a white kid’s story would be inside of a black marching band without making it ridiculous.’ I got to Morris Brown College one day, and I see this kid,” Austin began. “He’s one of the cymbal players, a white kid with red hair. I said, ‘Where’d you come from?’ He said, ‘In Atlanta, down the street. I’ve always wanted to be in the band because I grew up in the neighborhood.’ We followed that story into GQ’s character.” GQ was responsible for playing the role of bass player Jayson Flore.

Read the full oral history here and learn how that infamous battle scene between Morris Brown and Atlanta A&T University came to be and more.