Jeremy Pope on Black and Queer Representation in The Inspection

Jeremy Pope is known for his work on New York Broadway stages but is making his feature film premiere with The Inspection.


Jeremy Pope has been a leading man on Broadway stages and isn’t afraid to get vulnerable about his identity as an openly queer black man. Pope makes his feature film debut in The Inspection, starring opposite Gabrielle Union and Raúl Castillo. Pope told the New York Times, “I feel so blessed that I’m able to do this fully in my Blackness and in my queerness.”


The Inspection was released in theaters this past weekend. The protagonist at the center is a black man in the military who faces homophobia from his peers. He also lacks support from his mother, portrayed by Union. Pope identifies with the struggle to find acceptance; he tells the New York Times that he was afraid to be open about his identity only a short while ago. Pope feared rejection or not being considered for jobs. However, he says that the film was helpful for his own healing process for “things I hadn’t dealt with, things that had rubbed me the wrong way for many years that I pushed down to the side.”

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The film follows the struggles many queer people of color undergo regarding familial and societal acceptance. Pope’s character, Ellis, is kicked out by his mother when he is 16. Gabrielle Union plays Ellis’s mother, who is deeply conservative and anti-gay. Ellis is homeless on the streets for nearly a decade before joining the military, where he is targeted and outed by his fellow recruits in a military shower. Castillo plays a sympathetic drill sergeant for whom Ellis develops feelings.

Ultimately, Ellis finds the strength to persevere and embrace his identity despite his struggles. His character also finds a job making movies for the military, which mirrors the director’s real-life transition from recruit to a filmmaker.

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The Inspection is Elegance Bratton’s First Feature Film

Jeremy Pope in The Inspection

The Inspection’s script is semi-autobiographical and based on the director, Elegance Bratton’s life experiences. Bratton served in the military as a queer black man in the early aughts when the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy was still in full swing. That policy was ultimately overturned and dropped in 2011.

Elegance Bratton makes his feature film directorial debut in his A24 drama, The Inspection. His previous work post-military includes short films, a reality television show, and a documentary. The 2019 documentary Pier Kids follows the lives of queer and trans homeless teens of color in New York City. Bratton’s The Inspection is currently screening in theaters throughout the U.S.

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( With inputs from movieweb )