'Citizen Ashe' Directors on Why Arthur Ashe Did Activism 'His Way'

'Citizen Ashe' Directors on Why Arthur Ashe Did Activism 'His Way'

TheWrap Screening Series: ”He had to find the balance,“ Sam Pollard says about Ashe

“He was always taught to stay calm, stay quiet, keep your head down and just try and make it. And as Sam said, he was just going to do his activism his way. It took him until he was 25 and won the US Open to feel comfortable, successful enough and supported enough,” Miller explained. “In Arthur’s words, he referred to himself as the raisin in the rice pudding, meaning that he was the only Black man in tennis. He couldn’t go into these white bastions in tennis and put his fist up and be a rock thrower. He had to find the balance, and he was going to do it his way.”

“Citizen Ashe” was assembled from a collection of 41 rolls of unseen photographs of Ashe at the U.S. Open as well as 30 hours of audio conversation with him that had only been seen before as a transcript. And in listening to the footage, both Pollard and Miller realized that Ashe, despite being quieter, more methodical and analytical, was more active in advocating for change than anyone gave him credit.

“Arthur is a very thoughtful, introspective human being. The challenge was to make sure we got as much introspection through that audio as possible,” Pollard said. “This became a documentary that was told through Arthur’s voice.”

“Citizen Ashe” will be released in theaters and on demand on Dec. 3. Check out TheWrap’s full conversation with directors Sam Pollard and Rex Miller above.

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