About The Production
Pack Your Bags:
Girls Trip Begins
Ensemble comedy is synonymous with producer Will Packer, who has brought to the
screen the films in the Think Like a Man and Ride Along series, as well as a
number of additional comedies and beloved dramas. When pondering ideas for his
next project, he decided he wanted to bring black women to the big screen in a
way that they are seldom seen-in a no-holds-barred, R-rated comedy. "There is
this perception or stigma among some that women don't have that kind of fun,"
says Packer. The producer wanted to change all that and reflect the reality of a
long overdue ladies getaway...with some heightened comedy thrown in for good
As he began to brainstorm, Packer reached out to a friend and actress with whom
he has worked on several films to discuss a brewing premise. "When I was
thinking of the idea for Girls Trip, one of the first people I talked to was
Regina Hall-even before I spoke with the studio. I said, 'What if we had four
women who go to the Essence Festival, have a bunch of fun, behave badly, get
away with it and rekindle their sisterhood?' She said, 'That sounds awesome!'
Then I knew I had something."
His very next call was to filmmaker Malcolm D. Lee, whose work he had long
admired and who has shaped the genre of dramatic comedy as the writer/director
of such landmark films as those in The Best Man series as well as Welcome Home,
Roscoe Jenkins. Additionally, as the director of fare from Undercover Brother to
Barbershop: The Next Cut, his film voice is quite unique. "When it came to
thinking about a director for Girls Trip, I immediately thought of Malcolm. I
had just watched The Best Man Holiday, and I loved how he incorporated drama,
heart and comedy and molded it all together seamlessly," lauds Packer. "I
pitched him this idea for Girls Trip, and he responded right away. I was excited
because I knew I needed somebody who could give us raucous comedy and could get
actors to infuse our movie with heart. That's something that Malcolm does very,
Lee responded to his fellow producer's idea. "We've all seen the paradigm of men
behaving badly and going away on a weekend doing terrible things and getting
away with it...and their wives are none the wiser," he offers. "Will said, 'Let's
do that with women and set it at Essence.' I told him, 'I'm 100 percent in.'
This is the perfect place to set the story because it is a celebration of black
womanhood and all of its forms."
The director admits that he very much connected to Packer's sensibility and
imagery. "Will is passionate about African-American images on screen and wanting
those to change the narrative and be dynamic and be real."
The next step was crafting the story beats and screenplay, filled with
characters on a fun, flirty and delightfully raunchy getaway. Their
five-year-overdue celebration would not only test the deep bonds of long-lasting
friendship, it would force them all to come away deeply changed. While the
screenplay's four friends are lifelong ones, they haven't hung out in a
meaningful way in forever. This long weekend at Essence Festival there will be
no kids or rules. Their baggage and their beefs will be hauled out into the
opening, and everyone is fair game.
Throughout the development of the script-from screenwriters Kenya Barris & Tracy
Oliver, based on a story by Erica Rivinoja and Barris & Oliver-Packer and Lee
aimed to tell the story of these four girlfriends just as they were...blemishes
and all. While some might appear to have the perfect existence, and others look
like they're the perfect mess, the filmmakers honored the blurry lines that
brought the characters together and bonded them for life. That comedy and the
drama is the most enjoyable to mine.
The director/producer introduced us to the story of this "Flossy Posse,"
characters he feels all of us can see ourselves in: "We have this group of women
who went to college together and are best friends. They've become a little
estranged in the past couple of years because life has happened to them-whether
it is career, friendships, babies or family time.
"They used to go to Essence Festival annually, but in the past couple of years
they haven't, and it's time to reconnect," Lee continues. "Due to a couple
fractures in their relationships, there are unspoken words that get revealed at
this particular time-in the midst of all the chaos, fun and debauchery that
ensues. I believe everybody, especially women, are going to recognize themselves
in these characters."
Lee appreciated the relatability of these protagonists, who represent so many
adults struggling to hold on to the best parts of their youth, while letting go
of the past and fully embracing the next chapter in their lives. "We all know a
Sasha, who is very fashion-forward and at a crossroads in their career, as well
as a Ryan, somebody who is wildly successful and independent, but may be hiding
something," he surmises. "Similarly, we all know a Dina, who's going to have
your back. The one who can turn up the party and make some mayhem happen. You
want her around but you're also thinking, 'oh, boy, she might get us into some
trouble. Then there's Lisa, who has lost her way and has to rediscover her
womanhood. She once was this fierce, sexual creature who is now trapped in mom
Ryan, Sasha, Dina and Lisa-better known as the "Flossy Posse"-all head to New
Orleans for the Essence Festival, with plans to stay up late, drink, dance,
unwind, get wild and crazy and make memories. With the nonstop energy of Bourbon
Street as the backdrop, they'll deal with some long-lasting issues that explode
into the open. Lisa herself, Jada Pinkett Smith, explains the origin of the
term: "It's that young girl phrase when you name your clique."
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