Interview with Director Bill Posley and Stars Me’lisa Sellers and Tunde Laleye of ‘Bitch Ass’ (2022)

Black horror is a fascinating subgenre of our favorite here at PopHorror. Currently it seems to be going through a resurgence, largely thanks to Jordan Peele’s recent body of work. While larger names constantly saturate popular coverage, new names in the field can impress and shock just as well. Recently, I spoke with director Bill Posely about his film, Bitch Ass (our review), as well as featured actors Me’lisa Sellers and Tunde Laleye to discuss the making of the film as well as their own relationships with the genre.

Watch the interview video below or keep reading for all the deets!

PopHorror: All right. So I’ve got a couple individual questions for everybody, for each person. And I’ve got a couple of open questions as well.

Bill Posley: Great.

PopHorror: All right. So I’ll start with you, Bill. In the opening, you straight up mentioned multiple icons of black and hood horror, including multiple shout outs to Ernest Dickerson projects. What would you say were the most influential films of that genre that you watched?

Bill Posley: Me and my co writer, Jon [Colomb] felt—the minute we connected on all the movies we watched growing up as kids—we were like, “Oh my God, how can we recreate these?” I’d say for this movie specifically, People Under the Stairs is at the top of the list of what this really champions, and then Tales From The Hood. Of the two movies, I think that this has the similar story line of People Under the Stairs and the tone, and the fun and campiness of Tales From the Hood, even though I think it’s so funny. The wife in The People Under the Stairs and the grandmother are like the same energy. Oh, yeah, just, “Get ’em!” (chuckles)

PopHorror: I very much appreciated that! And I could see that your love of those movies was definitely on screen. Next, I have a question for Me’lisa. You play Q’s mother. Marcia is a much stronger, more involved mother than most in horror movies. She dives straight into the thick of things. What sort of inspiration did you use to get into that character?

Me’lisa Sellers: The mothers that I know. You know, growing up in an urban experience where the majority of mothers around me were single mothers that were very deliberate in their care for their children and would do anything for them. And I was raised by a single mother, but then, I had many sort of surrogate mothers as well. So I wanted people to see that and what a mother would do for her child, whatever things that she would go through to protect her child.

PopHorror: So it was a very personal, intimate connection to the character.

Me’lisa Sellers: Very, very personal to my experience. Yeah.

PopHorror: Oh yeah. It definitely comes across. And it’s refreshing to see a mom getting involved and diving into the thick of it. You know, you don’t really see that outside of like, Aliens, maybe?

Me’lisa Sellers: (laughing) Saying that she’s badass and I guess, I just know a lot of badass moms, you know! And just to give Marcia that.

PopHorror: Oh, she definitely comes across as a badass, and I love seeing it. You know, it’s nice to see that on screen. Not just sitting on the sidelines, waiting for kids to come home.

Me’lisa Sellers: Waiting for something to happen. Yeah.

PopHorror: Tunde, when it comes to playing a killer with the potential to become a new icon, was there a lot of pressure playing Bitch Ass?

Tunde Laleye: I mean, it’s a big shot film, man. You talk to the likes of like Jason, Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger, Candyman, Blacula, Bones, you know… it’s a big shoe to fill, but I’m ready for the challenge. I read the script, and I just felt connected to the character. I could empathize with the character of what he had been through: him being jumped, the story of him being picked on, being teased and bullied as a kid. You know, it’s sort of like an underdog story. And I love that about this character. Personally, I could relate to it as far as somebody coming from a different country and coming to America and being picked on as well. Just the entire script. Bill Posley is amazing, man, Bill and Jon wrote the script, and I just completely fell in love with the character. It was easy for me to connect to for sure.

PopHorror: Oh, I could definitely see that. When I heard about the film and heard the title, Bitch Ass, I thought, “That kind of sounds like what you call somebody who’s getting bullied.” And you turn it around and become this new Jigsaw meets Michael Myers type.

Tunde Laleye: Yeah, a play on words! Now, people are gonna be like, “Oh, my God, he’s gonna go Bitch Ass on you, man. Better you don’t mess with that guy!”

(Bill laughing)

PopHorror: So, a couple open questions for everybody. What game would y’all pick? If you had to play against Bitch Ass. Are there any you think you’d be guaranteed to win?

Me’lisa Sellers: I think I could I could outwit him or outmatch him in a game of spades.

Tunde Laleye: Yeah?

Me’lisa Sellers: I just think that’s the one. I mean, it takes more than two players. But, you know, let’s get some other folks involved. But I think I could I can unhand him. I could do it.

PopHorror: Nice!

Tunde Laleye: I don’t know. I’d rather race Bitch Ass, because I think I’m just faster than him.

PopHorror: You think you could outrace yourself?

Tunde Laleye: (laughs) I’d rather take my chances there then playing a game with somebody that has played over like 400 different board games.

(Me’lisa chuckles)

Chances of me winning against someone like that is close to none. So I’d rather race him, you know?

PopHorror: Fair! We see that basement in the opening. That’s like a whole game store down there.

Tunde Laleye: I know. I know.

PopHorror: How about you, Bill?

Bill Posley: So, I would play Tic Tac Toe, because it often ends in a tie. So you have to keep playing until somebody slips up. But I think if I just kept trying and kept trying and kept trying, I would eventually figure out a way out.

PopHorror: Or he would just get too tired?

Bill Posley: Yeah, or I would tire him out. Yeah.

PopHorror: There you go! So does anybody have any fun stories from set or from the production of film that they’d like to share?

Tunde Laleye: Fun stories! Me’lisa, do you have any fun stories? When we were kind of cracking up a little bit? Honestly, we made this film under COVID, so there wasn’t much room for clowning or joking around, or even rehearsals because we had to be, like, six feet apart. We had to be ready. And it was on the cover protocol. We had to do testing. So  like, probably under the tents, you know, we did a little bit of…

Me’lisa Sellers: Yeah, we hung out. We were able to hang out. I wish that every project that I do from here on out could be like this experience for me because it was so much… It sounds so trite, but so much love and support and appreciation on our set. You know, people just really seemed like everyone was there for this one specific cause to get this thing done and to make it the best project that it could absolutely be. And the dedication was extraordinary. I think showing up to work every day was a joy. You know, you could strike up a conversation with just about anyone, albeit that you’re masked… the time still, you know, it was just fantastic. And I think a lot of that has to do with our number one on the list, Tunde, but more with our director. Yeah, And Jonathan is wonderful, too.

Bill Posley: I think there’s a lot of fun little things. As the as the actors, you know, they are probably either in wardrobe or they’re in this so they’re bouncing around and maybe don’t get to… just in the nature of how they have to be so isolated from everything throughout the course of the process, they don’t get to be around for as much of the stuff. But some of the fun things I can think about that we got a chance to do is the scene where Tux hanging is being strangled on the Jenga thing and those feet are dangling… those are my feet!

PopHorror: Oh, so those are yours?

Tunde Laleye: Yup, that’s Bill!

Bill Posley: So I had to, like, do the feet thing. We’re hanging upside down. That was crazy. I think the dragging her down the hallway was…

Tunde Laleye: Yeah, that was fun!

Me’lisa Sellers: So much fun!

(Everybody laughs)

Tunde Laleye: Melissa was like, “Do it again, do it again! Let’s go!” Like, I’m getting a workout here, man!

Bill Posley: Yeah! And where we were was also great. We shot in South LA for a couple of the houses, and the neighborhood kids like running up being like, “What is this? Oh, my God, what is this?” And we’re all like, “Can we curse?” “What’s the name of this movie? And we were like, it’s… aagh, it’s Bitch Ass?” But to see them, like, riding their bikes and trying to look in and see what was going on was so much fun.

PopHorror: That’s awesome! And I want to give all you props. It makes sense that this was a COVID production, but I see a lot of independent movies, and you can definitely tell with some films that it was a COVID production. You know, I think of Chloe Okuno’s Watcher, a good film, but you can definitely tell by the spacing that it was filmed during COVID. Every character is blocked six feet apart in a scene.

Bill Posley: Yeah, man, COVID… You know, we had 12 days, and we just cranked. You know, we just got it done as fast as we possibly could. And you know, you lose 30 minutes at the top half of your week for just COVID testing. It’s just tough. It’s tough, tough, tough, but we got it done. Everybody. Nobody complained. Everybody worked hard. And it was it was awesome.

PopHorror: You said you filmed this all in 12 days. You didn’t have any setbacks or anything on that?

(Tunde and Me’lisa chuckle)

Bill Posley: Twelve days, man! Two six day weeks. It was supposed to be 11 days. One of our locations was very difficult. The house that they are in is like a museum, so it was really hard to move around in there. And then the other setback we had was I booked these dates and doing all this great stuff, and then you don’t realize that it’s daylight savings time. And so that meant for a movie that takes place at night, I lost an entire hour every day.

PopHorror: And on top of that, you’re losing the 30 odd minutes.

Bill Posley: And so because I lost that, and because this house was like literally shooting in a museum, I kept having to move, lose a scene here and lose a scene there, lose a scene at the end of the day. So I had to add a day at the end of the movie for the 12th day to basically start at like four in the evening to shoot, all the night stuff that we had missed because of daylight savings. As soon as I saw was daylight savings, I was like “oh shit!” How do you not… I didn’t even think about what how that would impact the film, and it totally did.

PopHorror: I already asked this of Bill, but I want to open it up to everybody. What is your favorite black horror movie?

Tunde Laleye: My favorite is Candyman. I love Candyman. It was my very first time seeing a black serial killer onscreen and the story was compelling. It’s kind of similar to what my character, Bitch Ass, had to go through, motivated by his rage and his trauma. Yeah, I love Tony. Tony Todd, are you kidding me? Such an icon. And for him to be a part of our film that is just a blessing.

Me’lisa Sellers: It’s so funny, I was just thinking about this the other day. My favorite was probably the first one that I ever saw, which is Blacula. And I saw that movie as a little kid, because I went to this daycare center that was in an old high school. It was that big. The daycare center was like this community kind of place and experience and run by former Black Panthers, many of them, which was interesting.

And during spring break or breaks, they would take us into the auditorium. There’s this big screen, and they would play all these different movies for us. And a lot of them are probably what’s considered—I don’t necessarily like the name—blaxploitation movies and things like that. And they showed us little kids Blacula. (laughs) And we sat and watched it. I’m sure that many of us were scared or whatever. But we’re probably just a bit more intrigued. I will never forget seeing black people—beautiful black people, I might say—on screen in this genre that I really wasn’t that familiar with. Because, you know, your parents are protecting you from certain movies when you’re that small. But yeah, that was the first for me. Yeah.

PopHorror: That’s it. That’s another classic.

Bill Posley: Though, yeah, if I just say my favorite of all of them, it would be People Under the Stairs. That really was that to me. I looked like that kid when I was a kid. So that that also lends itself to it. I really looked like him. But I would say a close… Not a close second, but another one that people wouldn’t consider is I really did love Vampire in Brooklyn so much.

PopHorror: Actually… that one is kind of a guilty pleasure for me. Yeah, I get it.

Bill Posley: It’s so good that like I remember the first time I watched it. I was at my local theater. We had a $2 cinema rerun. As a kid, we collected all these bottles and cans to get the $2. And we got $3. We go see the movie for the $2, and then we would go to this Greek place that made the best pizza. So, we would then get a slice of pizza afterwards. And halfway through that movie—first time this ever happened for me—the film reel burned out. Oh, I’d never seen that. I’d never seen that happen. So I had to go back the next day and rewatch the beginning to finish the end. Yeah, and I laughed the same way I laughed the first time the second time. It was great.

PopHorror: Yeah, Eddie Murphy is just an absolute blast in that film.

Tunde Laleye: Yeah, yeah, Eddie Murphy cracks me up!

Bill Posley: The scene where he leaves the church: “Evil is good, and ass is good. You get a piece of evil ass? Woo! Watch out!” The best!

PopHorror: Thank you, everybody. This has been great conversation. And I love the film. I can’t wait to talk about it more.

Me’lisa Sellers: Thank you so much.

Bill Posley: Thank you!

Tunde Laleye: Thank you, too!

About Chris Filipowicz

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