In the upcoming film Sorry To Bother You, every notion (or suspicion) you’ve ever had about capitalism and the labor force is turned on its head. An ambitious telemarketer named Cassius Green (played by Lakeith Stanfield) climbs his way up the corporate ladder. Unfortunately, his success comes at a price and his very soul may be up for sale.
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The film is loosely based on director Boots Riley’s experience as a telemarketer, among many other jobs he’s held. “I’ve been working since I was 11,” he tells BET.com “I sold newspaper subscriptions door to door, I delivered newspapers, I passed out flyers for pizza places, I washed dishes for restaurants, I worked at Adidas store, worked at UPS, telemarketing, built redwood decks. Worked at a place in Oakland called New York Fashions, which I’m sure the fashions had nothing to do with New York. We sold turtlenecks with zippers on them.”
In the film, Tessa Thompson’s character, Detroit, and Steven Yuen’s, Squeeze, are hustlers on multiple levels, as is Omari Hardwick’s secretive Mr___. So we asked them all to share their early employment stories before landing coveted jobs in Hollywood.
“My first real job was I did court room sketches for my local TV station. Yeah, I’m an artist, the whole thing. It was the worst murder case in Flint, Michigan, history. That’s my crazy job.”
“Mine, putting shoes on women at Nordstrom’s. I sold female shoes. And everybody’s female feet aren’t very female. Or dainty or pretty.”
“I used to work at an assisted living home in high school. That was heartbreaking, hard, and so strange. I had to do a lot of personal stuff, but then the worst one was there was this guy named Ed—if he’s still alive I’m so sorry. But he was like 90 and he couldn’t walk, and I tried to put him on his bed by myself one time. And so I was holding him up but I couldn’t get him over the threshold, and so I had to put him down on the ground and said, ‘I’ll be right back.’ He was so fucking angry with me.”
“I had regular jobs, but they were sort of remarkable in how weird they were now that I look back. My very first job, I was young, I lied, I was like 13 or 14. I worked at Hot Dog on a Stick. Then I was a bar mitzvah dancer… I did canvass for a while, going door to door. I lied a lot about special skills I had early in my carer. Things I could and could not do.”
“I lied… down on the couch. Just ate chips and was looking at the TV and was like ‘One day..’”
Sorry To Bother You is in select theaters July 6 and nationwide July 13.
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