With If the Boot Fits (Dafina, Nov.), Weatherspoon delivers a Black Cinderella romance between struggling screenwriter Amanda and cowboy turned movie star Sam.
I think I can thank my parents for sparking my initial interest in cowboys. My dad always wore a black cowboy hat and duster when it was raining. So I always had that image. My dad is 6’3”and was someone who was larger than life to me when I was a kid, anyway. And my mom always said, “There’s nothing better than a hard-working Black man.” That was our catchphrase. I think, in my mind, there’s nothing that personifies hard work more than a cowboy.
Instead of an evil stepfamily, Amanda has a demanding boss. What inspired this change from the original?
Sam, the hero, has such a huge family, and I knew that I was going to have to include all of them. If I had the traditional stepmother and two stepsisters, it just would have been too many people. So I combined those three characters into one person, and gave her a kind of hybrid, Disney homage name: Dru Anastasia.
Were you specifically interested in exploring intraracial conflict?
Dru’s biracial: her mom’s white; her dad’s Black. But it wasn’t necessarily an intraracial commentary. It was more an interclass commentary and a commentary on parenting. I envisioned Dru’s mom as kind of a Kardashian type. Amanda and Sam have hands-on parents and grandparents who really look out for them, and Dru doesn’t have that. She has a stage mom who cares about Dru’s career but not about her well-being. I wanted to show that when someone doesn’t have that kind of emotional guidance in their life, sometimes they can turn into a horrible person.
Amanda faces a significant amount of fat-shaming. How did you approach this element of the plot?
This is a Hollywood-based story, and body image is a big part of Hollywood. I wasn’t bullied a lot as a kid, but the most baseless, petty bullying was always about my weight. And Amanda is a good person, so the only way Dru can be cruel to her is to make fun of her body because she has no legs to stand on in any other arena. She can’t criticize her kindness. She can’t criticize her work.
Sam is very considerate about Amanda’s insecurities surrounding her career. Tell me about his characterization.
All Sam wants is for Amanda to trust him and be open with him. He just wants to be there for her, even as a friend. I wanted to make the heroes of the series very kind, loving people. And Sam is that much more irresistible to Amanda because not only is he attractive and wealthy, he’s actually a very sweet man who’s there for her when she needs him emotionally.