We interview Tonya Pinkins about her frightening political thriller “Red Pill” inspired by the 2020 election and its aftermath.
Tonya Pinkins, writer-director of Red Pill, wants to shock you. It takes a lot of guts to give your movie the tagline, “Six liberals. One deadly weekend.” If that doesn’t pique your interest, then maybe the synopsis will:
On the eve of the 2020 election, six progressives ride into “red country.” Despite the glaring warning signs, their focus on the triumphant dream of getting the vote out is quickly slashed as the group is now fighting for their lives.
Now that we’ve got your attention, let’s talk Tonya Pinkins.
The Tony Award-winning star of All My Children has proven she’s not only an amazing actress but that she’s a strong filmmaker as well. She wanted to grab you by the balls with her award-winning feature film directorial debut, Red Pill, and I’m pretty sure that’s what she did. Red Pill is brazen and gusty and the story and message are important.
To celebrate the release of the film, I chatted with Tonya about the inspiration behind the film, what’s up next, and her favorite scary movie.
Morbidly Beautiful: What inspired Red Pill?
Tonya Pinkins: I’ve just finished a book titled Red Pill Unmasked that gives all the details and meaning and historical references. It should be available on Amazon and on the Red Pill website by Christmas. But basically, the inspiration was being fed up with the fact that white women are the pivot point for equality in America. If we can swing them left, the US goes left.
Morbidly Beautiful: You wrote, directed, and starred in Red Pill. Had you written the script with yourself in mind?
Tonya Pinkins: I wrote the script as an ensemble piece. I think that was me being chicken. It took my editors to make me understand that Cass is the protagonist.
Morbidly Beautiful: Since you had so many roles in the making of your film, how did you prepare for shooting?
Tonya Pinkins: When my creative fire is going, I barely sleep. I’m just full of excitement and passion.
Morbidly Beautiful: What draws you to horror?
Tonya Pinkins: Horror is the most familiar genre to me. A lot of my life has been a horror — and in many ways — horror is a break and relief from real life.
Morbidly Beautiful: You have a very impressive acting resume and just recently ventured behind the camera. What made you want to direct?
Tonya Pinkins: I wanted to direct because I wanted to see my point of view on screen. I have rarely seen anything with my very specific perspective. I like scary and funny side by side. That is my jam.
Morbidly Beautiful: If you could collaborate with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
Tonya Pinkins: You know, I have met most of my heroes and they are never who you imagine them to be. They all have clay feet. So I just want to collaborate with anyone who can get as excited as I am about working my ass off round-the-clock to create something that some people will get and some people won’t. The outcome isn’t the point. The process is everything.
Morbidly Beautiful: What’s up next for you?
Tonya Pinkins: I am the narrator of The Chicago Strangler on Discovery, airing December 3rd. The book Red Pill Unmasked releases this month, and The Red Pill game will be released in January. It is set in a feature where the Red Pills have won and you have challenges to escape, die or join the Red Pills.
I am also about to go on the press tour for ABC’s Women of The Movement, which is the story of Mamie and Emmett Till and how his death and her love for him launched the civil rights movement. It airs on Hulu on January 6th.
I’m painting and writing a lot. I’m down in Panama where I am going to shoot my next film, which is a ghost story about child molestation and sex trafficking of children, I Live in the Shadow.
Morbidly Beautiful: One last question for you, Tonya. What’s your favorite scary movie?
Tonya Pinkins: Too many to narrow down! Return of The Living Dead with Clu Gallagher and the Korean film, Bedeviled. They are two very different films but I love them both for different reasons. I love Return of the Living Dead because of the humor and horror mix, which I was going for with Red Pill, and Bedeviled because it breaks all the rules of what a protagonist is.