Director Allen Hughes explains why the Tupac and Afeni FX docuseries Dear Mama will be different then any other prior documentary.
Over the past 26 plus years since Tupac’s passing, there has been plenty of documentaries and TV specials covering Shakur’s life. Some of these docs have been well received such as MTV’s Tupac: Resurrection, told by Tupac himself via various interviews. Although the Lauren Lazin directed documentary which was released in theaters covered Tupac’s life from start to finish, a deep dive and understanding of who Tupac was and what he became had not been fully told.
After hesitating to take on the project when he received the call from Tom Whalley, the trustee of the Tupac Estate, Allen Hughes agreed with the goal of understanding Tupac as best as possible.
“There have been a million pieces done on him, but none of them really did the trick as far as understanding completely that narrative and that human being and the complexities and the dualities,” Hughes tells Billboard. “You talk about the surface stuff, but there was never a deep dive. I wanted to understand.”
Allen and his twin Albert, started their careers with Tupac. Directing his first three music videos and ultimately had an intense personal friendship as well with the rapper. Unfortunately things went left. For this reason Hughes received backlash for taking on the film due to his 1994 incident and fallout with Tupac. The director will confront the incident head-on in Dear Mama — turning the camera on himself at the end of the second episode.
Fun Fact: Allen Hughes says Menace 2 Society was “green lit” thanks to Tupac. New Line Cinema would only give the Hughes brothers the green light if they had a well known artist in the film. Tupac agreed despite only wanting to work with John Singleton at the time.
Hughes ensured fans that his fallout with Tupac will not play a role in the outcome of the docuseries. “What kind of b**** a** s** would I be on to first off not be proud of the icon he’s become and why would I want to s*** on that. And if anything I took the job to understand him more. You go around the world. Africa, South America, Asia, Europe, you see that mural. You don’t see anyone around the world like that. I don’t give a f*** who it is,” said Allen Hughes in a recent Breakfast Club interview.
The director also focused on the story being told with the help of those who knew Tupac best such as family, close friends and peers.
“For all the alleged crimes he was caught up in or were litigated, if you weren’t a friend or family that was there, I’m not relitigating,” Hughes said to Billboard of his approach. “It’s only through the eyes of people who were there or close to him and how it dovetails back into the dynamic with his mother. It’s not a normal documentary in the way of ‘Let’s go explore.’”
Along with discovering how poor Tupac really was in his early life and Afeni facing and fighting off 100 plus years on her own, Hughes revealed what the number one thing he learned from working on Dear Mama.
“The number one thing Allen learned about Tupac directing Dear Mama, was Tupac’s artistic side. “The number one thing. Let’s set aside recording artist. Let’s set aside actor. Let’s set aside the poet. He’s a pure artist. He’s an artist first,” said Hughes on Sway In The Morning.
On its premiere, episodes 1 and 2 of Dear Mama will air on FX at 10 p.m. ET/PT. Every week after on Friday a new episode will air as the series concludes on May 12th, two days before Mother’s Day.