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Feb
16

Pam Grier's Colorado roots

Posted By: Quibian Salazar-Moreno
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In our feature story, Foxy Lady: Pam Grier, 'the baddest one-chick hit squad in town,' comes to Boulder, we briefly mentioned what she writes about in her 2010 memoir, Foxy: My Life in Three Acts. She writes at length about spending a majority of her schooling years in Denver.

In the mid-1960s, Grier writes, her mother was able to purchase a house in the Denver neighborhood of Park Hill. To this day, that neighborhood still holds a special place in her heart.

"The house that my mom was able to buy for her children was on 35th and Eudora," she says. "Then later my mom moved to 35th and Kearney. Down the street lived Stedman Graham, Oprah’s other half. [Comedian] Sinbad also lived down the street from us; I think he was on Ivanhoe. And Rosanne Barr was around the corner, along with Tim Allen. What was interesting is that we were all middle-class and integrated."

She attended East High School in Denver, and after graduation went to Metropolitan State College of Denver for a year before moving to California. She admits to being a quiet teenager who was sometimes picked on at school. She says her biracial Chicana cousins, who carried razor blades in their mouths and afros, used to try and get her to defend herself and stand up for herself when classmates were trying to pick on her.

"They would teach me how to throw battery acid in people’s faces during a fight, it was crazy!" she says.

Colorado has always been "home" to Grier. Her mother along with dozens of other family members still live in the Denver area and she drives up from her ranch near Colorado Springs often. When the opportunity came for her to be able to "commute" to work, whether it's doing a film in Los Angeles, a TV show in Canada or theater work in New York, she made sure that Colorado would be home base.

Nowadays, she's working with the Colorado Film Commission to bring more movies to Denver and Colorado.

"Yes, I’m also working on bringing more films to Denver," she says. "I’m working with [state Rep.] Mark Ferrandino and Democratic Chairman Rick Palacio to bring more movies here. And film commissioner Don Zuckerman, I’ve been working with him to try to be comparable to what New Orleans is doing so we can be competitive because we haven’t shot a film in Denver in four years. And since 2006, New Orleans has made a billion dollars. They shoot 55 films a year there. And we’re the horsey-ist state and we haven’t got one Western! Not True Grit, not Cowboys & Aliens, we didn’t get Django. They’re now going to Wyoming, Oklahoma and New Orleans. We currently have Johnny Depp, who wants to shoot part of the Lone Ranger here, and he’s trying to hold off."

Westword recently published a feature detailing why filmmakers have been staying away from Colorado and how the state is trying to get Hollywood back in town to make movies. Grier herself wants to produce some of her own projects in Denver and around Colorado, but because of the state's tax incentive, which lags behind what is offered by other states, she's had to hold off.

"I’ve got a reality show with producers from MTV Cribs and Extreme Home Makeover, they want to do a reality show on myself and my sister here but not with the Colorado 10 percent tax incentive," she says. "I think we’re going from 10 to 20 percent, so hopefully we can get people starting here this summer.If we can get five films a year to start for the next couple of years? The state can make $50 million!"

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