Reginald Hudlin

What is your name and your current occupation?
My name is Reginald Hudlin, and I’m a writer, producer and director of motion pictures and television.

What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
When I was a kid, I worked in my dad’s insurance office.  Part of my responsibilities was taking pictures of buildings we insured. Around the corner from our office was the Chamber of Commerce, which my dad also ran.  For some reason, people would come to the Chamber of Commerce to get married.  So I would go down the street to get Fred, a manager at the local Walgreen’s to officiate the ceremony since he was also a minister.  Since I had a camera, I would take a picture of the couple, which they were very appreciative of because they never expected to get a wedding day picture.

What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
I directed movies like HOUSE PARTY and BOOMERANG.  Specifically in animation, I wrote and produced the first African American animated feature film, BEBE’S KIDS;  and executive produced THE BOONDOCKS, which is also a groundbreaking series.  While President of Entertainment at BET, I wrote and produced THE BLACK PANTHER animated mini-series, which is currently big seller on DVD.  I also greenlit a short called READ A BOOK which caused a lot of controversy and is one of the coolest things I ever did.

How did you become interested in animation?
I grew up on cartoons like everyone else and wanted to make my own. From ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE to JOHNNY QUEST, it all looked like fun to me.

Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I’m from East St. Louis Illinois. I grew up two doors down where Ike met Tina. After the success of my first movie, I sold an animated TV show to NBC.  When the head of NBC left to run a movie studio, I took the project there with him.

What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
No such thing.  I try and wake up early and get a little work in before the kids wake up, then after dropping my daughter at school, there’s meetings, writing, and a bunch of other stuff which may or may not have to do with the actual making of things.

What part of your job do you like best? Why?
Actually making things.

What part of your job do you like least? Why?
Convincing people to finance the making of things.  It’s the most wasteful part of the process.

What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
Finishing a project, and almost instantly people ask “so what are you doing next?”.   It’s like a woman leaving the maternity ward and folks ask when she’s having another baby.

What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
Nothing fancy.  Computers and phones.

In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
I met Joseph Barbera once at the Warners Animation offices.  That’s a legend. My biggest brag is that I can say I was friends with the late great Dwayne McDuffie.

Describe a tough situation you had in life.
Years ago I was visiting home and my uncle Richard asked how I was doing.  I admitted I was mildly depressed.  He was shocked and asked why.  I told him I made a movie that flopped;  my TV pilot didn’t get picked up;  my spec script didn’t sell; even my vacation to Europe with my girlfriend wasn’t that great. My uncle pointed out that any one of those things would be a person’s lifetime ambition, and that I have achieved them all in a “bad year”.  I was immediately fixed, cheered up, and have strived to appreciate my wonderful life ever since then.

Any side projects or you’re working on or hobbies you’d like to share details of?
What are “side projects?”.  There are only projects.  I follow my passions where ever they might lead so I do a lot of things, many of them in different mediums.  I do books, I want to do a stage show, I want to put together concert tours…’s only a “side project” if there’s no money in it.

Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
I’m pithy.

Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Passion makes the work easier.  Dependability and dedication can be better than talent sometimes.

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