‘The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster’ Director and Star Discuss the Film’s Frankenstein Origins [SXSW Interview]

Writer/Director Bomani J. Story’s feature debut, The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster (read my review) gives a righteous reinterpretation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

The film, which premiered at SXSW this month, stars Laya DeLeon Hayes as Vicaria, an angry teen whose turbulent life prompted a determination to cure death.

Bloody Disgusting spoke with Story and Hayes after the film’s world premiere at SXSW, where the pair discussed the source inspiration and taking on a complex role in Vicaria.

I read Mary Shelly when I was fresh out of high school, and I was obsessed with it. It gave me anxiety; I couldn’t sleep, and I also couldn’t put the book down. It really started there,” Bomani said of his enduring love of the literary classic. 

But his influences on his debut were also deeply personal. Bomani explains, “I have two older sisters who were always shepherding me throughout my entire life, telling me stuff, and guiding and counseling me. And they still do it now. My first interactions with that kind of genius shit were in the household, you know? So, it was a combination, like a perfect storm of the book and my sisters. Both of my parents came from the sciences. My dad’s a pharmacist, and my mom majored in biology. It just all came together in a crazy, perfect storm.

“From the beginning of this movie, when I was making it or writing it, I wanted to try to ground this character as much as possible. We’re already used to seeing the hokey, mad scientists running around the lab. I felt like; it’s not human to me. I don’t buy it. I wanted to try to bring the humanity to this character as much as possible.

For Hayes, she saw exploring Vicaria as an enigmatic challenge. “It was a lot of things,” the actress answered when asked what drew her to Story’s script. 

She continued, “I mean, the main thing at first was Vicaria. As an actor, as any artist, especially if you love what you do, you just want to be challenged. When I read the script, and when I read the character Vicaria, I could not stop thinking about her. She was so compelling and layered. There were things my brain couldn’t fully understand or comprehend that I wanted to figure out about her brain and how it operated.”

During the audition process, I fell in love with that character,” Hayes told Bloody Disgusting. “When you get the offer to play the role, or when you book it, you’re going to be spending four to six to eight weeks with these people, with that director, and you want to make sure that you like them or have a connection with them. I felt immediately from, I think, the second audition with Bomani that we were on the same wavelength. It was his first time directing, and he’s a risk-taker, someone very courageous for this to be straight out the gate, for this to be his first film.

“Those are the types of people that I want to work with.”

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