Kathryn Stockett and Tate Taylor Talk 'The Help' and Growing Up in Mississippi

The story of a friendship that extends way beyond the making of 'The Help.'
Kathyrn Stockett, Tate Taylor and Mary J. Blige. (Photo: WireImage)
Aug 3, 2011
Jenny Inglee is a Los Angeles-based journalist and the Education Editor at TakePart.

Kathryn Stockett, the best-selling author of The Help, and Tate Taylor, the screenwriter-director who brought the book to the big screen, have a friendship that extends way beyond the making of the film.

The two grew up together in Mississippi and both had African American maids who helped raise them. To Kathryn and Tate, these women felt like co-mothers.

At a recent press conference in Los Angeles, Tate said he knew Kathryn's story was something special well before her book became the phenomenon it is today. "I read it and couldn’t believe she had found what was essentially the last remaining view for this subject matter. Seemingly, it was the most obvious point of view that should have been done and it hadn’t," he said.

Tate nabbed the movie rights and on August 10, the film will be released in theaters. Set in Jackson, Mississippi, during the Civil Rights movement, The Help chronicles the relationship between three extraordinary women who build an unlikely friendship around a secret writing project that breaks societal rules and puts them all at risk.

Tate was on a plane from New York to Los Angeles when he first read the manuscript and "somewhere over Ohio" he knew he had to make a movie based on Kathryn’s novel.

Kathryn's daughter plays young Skeeter in a scene with Cicely Tyson. (Photo: Dale Robinette/DreamWorks)

"Since she and I are from the same hometown," he explained, "we grew up this certain way, and she was telling the story...I knew all these places she was talking about. It was so nostalgic and fun for me, and knowing her and being friends with her, I saw where she was going and my brain kicked in and I thought cinematically, ‘well, we could do that.'"

Kathryn was on set during the making of the film and describes the experience as "an extraordinarily unique situation."

"All our moms, all our friends are in the film," Kathryn said. "My daughter plays young Skeeter, and Tate's caregiver, his maid Carol Lee, has a line."

It's clear from talking to Kathryn and Tate that the book and film are a labor of love. In this short video, Tate shares what he hopes the public will take away from the film. The two also remember a favorite children's story from their past.

From DreamWorks Pictures and Reliance Entertainment, in association with Participant Media and Imagenation Abu Dhabi, comes the drama 'The Help.' Participant Media is TakePart's parent company.

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