New action-drama “The Woman King” director Gina Prince-Bythewood listens to “Ex-Factor,” a song by Grammy-winning singer and rapper Lauryn Hill, whenever she needs a creative spark.
Among the many themes explored in her groundbreaking 1998 album “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” including motherhood, the strife among her previous hip-hop group the Fugees, nostalgia, love, heartbreak, and God, this song stands out.
When Prince-Bythewood wants to dig deep into her writing, she listens to the song.
As an artist, my ultimate goal is to tell a story—perhaps in the form of a film—that will move people to tears, just like that song did. My goal in writing a love story is to make you feel as strongly as that song does.
The title already tells you a lot. The lyrics convey an incredible amount of meaning. But it’s her vocals that really make you feel like she’s experiencing everything she sings about.
It takes tremendous bravery for her to open up to an audience and bring us inside her life at such a personal and vulnerable time.
Of course, as an artist, I see a lot of reflections of myself in the roles I play in the films I make. It’s my favorite part of my job. Putting pen to paper or directing a film can be a cathartic release from emotional distress.
When you’re a vocalist, however, you don’t get to hide behind a mask. I have a great place to take cover in my stories’ fictional protagonists. In your line of work, you can’t since it’s just you and a microphone.
I really appreciate what she did and what she gave us. There must be a thousand people who have listened to the song over and over again for a thousand different reasons.
That song is always on my writing playlist whenever I need to get in the mood to write about something intense.