WATCH: GLAAD's Julian J. Walker Interviews 'The Inspection' Director Elegance Bratton, Stars Jeremy Pope and Gabrielle Union


The Inspection, a new A24 film in theaters now, is a ramifying, Black queer narrative of lived experience five years in the making.   

The Inspection tells the story of Ellis French (Jeremy Pope), a young Black gay man who returns home from prison and enlists in the military. The film not only shares an authentic Black queer story, but is also written, directed by, and starring Black LGBTQ people and allies.

The film explores a number of themes that speak deeply and honestly to the relationships and experiences of queer people everywhere, as well as the specific nuances in experience that Black LGBTQ+ people encounter, while simultaneously drawing on the singular lived experience of director, filmmaker, photographer, author, and television producer, Elegance Bratton



While the film tackles a number of difficult themes and conversations, including misogyny, institutionalized homophobia, and periods of "don't ask, don't tell" military policy, one of its central conflicts lies in the relationship between Ellis French and his mother, Inez (Gabrielle Union). 

Early on, The Inspection makes clear that Inez and Ellis' mother-son relationship is tenuous partly because Inez is intolerant and unaccepting of her son's sexuality. And, even as the film explores this relationship through an artistic lens, the storyline is further emotionally driven by the fact that it is based on Bratton's lived experience of being rejected and ousted from his home and experiencing homelessness because of his sexuality. 

To honor the film and the stories therein, GLAAD and A24 hosted a private screening of Bratton’s The Inspection during its opening weekend at the Angelika Film Center in New York City. Notable attendees included fashion designer Laurence Bass, artist/musician Britton Smith, choreographer Jermaine Brown, Surface Level Podcast host Tony Jerrell, and Tyler Jackson.



For a closer look at the screening, see images from the fun, community-filled night at the end of this blog.




Further celebrating the release of Bratton’s The Inspection, and standout performances by Pope and Union, GLAAD's Communities of Color and Media Associate Director Julian J. Walker conducted interviews with Elegance Bratton, Jeremy Pope, and Gabrielle Union in the month after the film's premiere.



Diving in headfirst, Julian and Elegance addressed the importance of the film for Black gay men and Black LGBTQ people everywhere. Referencing that the film was the culmination of five years worth of hard work and "a dream come true," Elegance reflected on the message he hoped his film would impart to its audience.

"I hope that by the end of this viewing experience, if you're a person that's ever felt disregarded and abandoned and alone, if someone has ever told you that you're not enough and that you don't have enough, I hope that by the end of The Inspection you're certain that you are enough," Bratton said, emphasizing the threads of hope, perserverance, and self-love that pervade the film. Reflecting on his dream come true, Elegance advised considerable aspirations and patience, urging Black LGBTQ folks who could resonate with the film or who were on similar journeys to "Dream big. Dream practically. [Remember] it's hard to build Rome in a day."

In addition to asserting the film's uplifting underpinnings and hopeful vision, Bratton also reiterated during the course of his conversation with Walker that the film was specifically for the Black LGBTQ community and our experience. "It's really about us. It's about our community," the filmmaker said, "Our superpower is our ability to discover and act out our most authentic selves, and I wanted to put that power on display."



In a final reflection on the importance of mental health, especially among Black gay men, Bratton delivered a powerful affirmation; reminder that even in our power and amidst our successes, we must remember to take care of ourselves, take care of our found and chosen family, as we cannot always count on the outside world to do the same: "You have to always pick yourself. We're in a world where 1 in 2 Black gay men are going to be HIV positive in their lifetime. We're 8 times more likely to commit suicide, 8 times more likely to be homeless. We're [living] in a world where our early deaths are almost guaranteed, and no one is talking about it. You have to pick yourself." 

Bringing Bratton’s story to life, Gabrielle Union and Jeremy Pope deliver two emotionally powerful performances in their portrayals of Inez and Ellis French. Both Gabrielle and Jeremy shared their own reflections on the film with Julian as well. 

Gabrielle and Julian’s interview was, similarly to the film, honest and real, honing in on the ways The Inspection is deeply personal to Garbrielle and her family. So personal, that she initially felt she couldn’t take the role, due to the distance she felt from Inez’s character: “We live it. In our household, we live this; loved ones rejecting members of our household, and the heartbreak it causes.”


Further reflecting on the relationship between Ellis and Inez, and the type of advice that she would have for parents who relate to Inez, Union said “I think that a lot of parents don’t think about the impact of their intention. And they do love their children, and their intention is to protect them.” She went on to say that “If parents understood the level of pain and trauma and heartache that that their version of loving is causing, they would shift course.”

Gabrielle ended the interview by speaking directly to such parents: “Think about it that way. Do you want your love to be inhumane?” A question that resonates within the film, and which will continue to resonate in our present worlds and lived realities. 

Actor, singer, and film star Jeremy Pope shared what the film meant to him during his interview, stressing how The Inspection provided a clear opportunity for Black queer narratives to be represented, seen, and heard. 

“Doing this film was me protecting Elegance and showing up for Elegance. Community is everything. Specifically in the black and the queer community. We have to really band for each other.” - Jeremy Pope

In addition to stressing the importance of telling authentic Black queer stories in Hollywood, Jeremy also expressed his thanks for Elegance and Gabrille inviting him and being involved to do such special work together, the importance of self-love for LGBTQ youth and adults, and faith in one’s journey. 

Similarly to Elegance and Gabrielle, Jeremy left us with a number of resounding thoughts and considerations, including a final affirmation and message to the community: “There is life. There is possibility, limitless possibility. Opportunity. Love. I encourage people to seek that. To seek the opportunity, seek the love, and have faith in themselves”

Be sure to support The Inspection, in theaters now, at a theater near you. For more work following his directorial debut with The Inspection, you can connect with Elegance Bratton on Instagram.




More images from the GLAAD x A24 private screening of The Inspection: