The Prince of Broadway
Presented by Lee Daniels, Directed by Sean Baker
The Prince of Broadway tells the story of Lucky, an illegal Ghanaian immigrant, eking out a living as a salesman of illicit designer duds on the streets of Manhattan’s discount shopping district. Posted up in his “street corner” office, Lucky perfects the art of the handbag hustle and has pronounced himself the King of Broadway Avenue. His world is abruptly turned upside down with the arrival of the 2-year-old son, aptly named Prince, he never knew existed. Director Sean Baker shot the film without a script (just a plot outline) and with actors who had never previously been actors thereby achieving a heightened state of reality that exhaustive staging and professional training can sometimes negate. When a woman from one night in Lucky’s not so distant past leaves him with the toddler she claims they conceived; life as Lucky knows it stops. He tries vigorously to return the child to his mother but when his efforts fail, Lucky’s mindset turns from shock to panic, realizing neither his ramshackle, one-room apartment nor his street hustler lifestyle are conducive to single fatherhood. We’ve definitely seen this set-up before: a father struggling to care for, or even love, a child he’s not even sure is his. But somewhere between leaving his son alone in the community bathroom for a cringe-inducing period of time to decoding the science of lulling a 2-year-old to sleep, something amazing happens. Love happens.
So frequently in film we see Black fathers keeping a devastating distance from their children. Allegedly void of the nurturing gene, Black fathers are too often portrayed as the ones their children are better off without. Being needed, we’re led to believe, is the Black Man’s kryptonite. In Lucky’s case, we get to observe a Black father who so seamlessly develops love for someone who does nothing but need him. “The Prince of Broadway” eloquently shows us a father’s love that does not begin with conception of a child in love’s embrace and does not enhance in nine months of awaiting baby’s emergence from the womb. It’s a love that comes from the simple realization that because of you, him.
Carmen L. Scott is a writer/director/producer based in New York City. She is currently in production on a feature documentary called “The Sunflower County Freedom Project” which highlights the state of public education in the Mississippi Delta. Check her out at www.bestof7films.com