CHARLOTTE, N.C. — You may have seen Jordan Peele’s "Get Out" or recently caught Nia DaCosta’s "Candyman" remake. Director Ty Durden says while these directors are inspirational, strong Black leads in horror films are few and far between.

Durden is a director, photographer and writer, but photography was not always his career path.

“As a person who did a lot of music videos, I had to find a way to do it more inexpensively so I actually tapped into that part of my learning, so I decided to get into film,” Durden said. 


What You Need To Know

With Halloween around the corner, you may be flipping on your favorite horror film classics

In Charlotte, filmmakers are creating their own horror films and they’re making sure everyone is represented

Director and photographer Ty Durden says he’s trying to break stereotypes and empower Black actors in horror


He says while his journey to film led him through dramas and other genres, his favorite is horror.

“I feel like it has a lot more creativity to it. I feel like the story lines are a little more complex. I'm pretty much about the writing and story,” he said. 

He says his first peek at inclusivity in horror was the 1992 film "Candyman." 

“Classic horror movie for a strong Black lead," Durden said. "It’s still a classic.”

But he says besides the original film and Jordan Peele’s films and remake, there isn’t much representation in horror.

“A lot of times the best we’ll get as roles is a strong supporting character. We’re usually the comedic sidekick or we play very stereotypical roles,” he said. 

In his film “The Conference,” Durden says he focuses on strong Black leads, breaking stereotypes and encouraging empowerment.  

“It’s important to me for Black women to be empowered in roles because it’s not demonstrated enough in media and cinema,” Durden said.

He says, without giving away the ending, that viewers can expect to be surprised throughout his film and expect the unexpected. 

As he continues his journey in redefining horror with inclusivity and diversity, he encourages other Black actors, directors and writers to follow their dreams

“Don’t be your own excuse because it’s so easy to talk yourself out of stuff," Durden said. "Do right by people, work hard and it will always work out for you."

Thursday evening, Charlotte directors and actors will come together for Black Film Night, which will include all horror films. The Black Film Night founder says the proceeds will go to the next film night and tickets can be purchased on Eventbrite