Pam Grier And Damon Wayans On Their Black Noir Film 'Cinnamon'

The Bryian Keith Montgomery Jr. film drops June 23.

The legendary Pam Grier and Damon Wayans have paired up for their first film together, the provocative Black Noir thriller Cinnamon. Dropping on Tubi June 23, the directorial debut from Bryian Keith Montgomery Jr. is a mix of the Blaxploitation era with modern filmmaking. The movie follows a young couple in love who thinks they can escape their circumstance in a robbery, which ends in chaos. Grier plays “Mama” and Wayans is a shady business owner.

In an interview with, Grier and Wayans discussed the film, their careers, and legacy.

BET: What attracted you both to this film?

Wayans: Well, I had just lost my mom. I was trying to look for something to do to distract me and I read this script and 10 pages in I'm like, “I get this character. I like this story.” Then I talked to Bryian Keith Montgomery Jr., the director and writer, and his vision – then he said, Pam Greer. And I was like, “What? Don't play with me, man.” It didn't take much after that.

Grier: It was a slice of life, for me. I'm very familiar with the family and Mama's character. A lot of the working-class family members that I have are differently abled, and they don't want to be thought of as less. They have the same anger and integrity issues and pride. I just related to her layers and with Damon Wayans’s character – I knew I would enjoy the experience.

BET: Mr. Wayans, can you speak to this up-and-coming filmmaker Bryian Keith Montgomery Jr., and what you saw from him as a young filmmaker?
Wayans: Bryian has this vision. He has that [Quentin] Tarantino vibe about him, which is, “I know, film, I know the history of film, I know this genre and I want to put a little twist on it.” He was just very articulate in terms of communicating what he wanted, what he wanted from me and for this character. He pulled me back sometimes, which is good, because it wasn't about me, it was about telling this story. I think he did a masterful job.

Celebrating Pam Grier: An Icon of Strength, Talent, and Trailblazing Cinema

BET: The main character dreams of becoming a singer, and she's doing everything she can to accomplish this dream. At the beginning of your careers, what was the most significant risk you took to make your dream come true?

Grier: To be a female who has walked in a man's shoes, establishing her leadership, her quality, and acceptance. That's what I grew up with. A lot of that narrative had been lost in our history books, in our culture and I wanted to bring that to film, that it's okay for a woman to be independent, to be demonstrative and we're not castrating our men, we're not taking anything from them. We're just being equals. I don't want to be vilified for going to the hardware store and trying to fix the leak in the roof. There's a radical feminism that I projected and the psychopathology of a woman is what I wanted to bring forth because that's the women that I grew up with.

Wayans: I think it was getting fired from Saturday Night Live. They just weren't letting me be funny on my terms. Actually, there was a sketch that they wanted me to play a slave and they wanted me to wear a loincloth and to have a spear, and I didn't even have lines. And I'm like, “I can't do this. My mother's gonna watch this. I don't have a line. I don't have nothing to say, I'm not going to do this.”  In hindsight, everything worked out because a lot of the stuff that I was trying to do on Saturday Night Live, I ended up doing on In Living Color. It just wasn't the right venue for me. I have nothing but the utmost respect for Lorne Michaels, and he did the right thing. He got rid of me because I just didn't want to be there. Wow.

BET: How do you see Cinnamon in the legacy of your careers?

Wayans: Well, I got to work with my childhood crush. That goes to the top of the list, working with Pam Grier.

Grier: I feel it'd be inspiring generations to come. The essence of the new generation of filmmaking – now today, economically and through streaming, we're going to find a way to maintain our genius. I believe it's going to be a huge inspiration for our audiences, which we have to continue to develop, and keep them going and taking care of our crew members who make us successful. I think from Cinnamon and what Damon and all our legacies have done will continue the energy we need to tell our narratives that many are undiscovered.

Cinnamon streams on Tubi June 23. Watch the trailer above.

Latest News

Subscribe for BET Updates

Provide your email address to receive our newsletter.

By clicking Subscribe, you confirm that you have read and agree to our Terms of Use and acknowledge our Privacy Policy. You also agree to receive marketing communications, updates, special offers (including partner offers) and other information from BET and the Paramount family of companies. You understand that you can unsubscribe at any time.