Nanny (2022): Is the Movie Based on True Horror Events?

Directed by debutant filmmaker Nikyatu Jusu, ‘Nanny’ is a horror drama film that revolves around Aisha (Anna Diop), an undocumented Senegalese immigrant trying to build a life for herself in New York so she can bring her son, Lamine, to her. She begins working for an affluent Upper East Side family as a nanny for their daughter, Rose. However, the job that was supposed to ensure that Aisha would get some respite from her financial troubles and reunite with her son increasingly proves difficult as her employers withhold her pay, and Rose behaves erratically.

Soon, Aisha starts experiencing visions involving her son and entities from African mythology. Despite the supernatural presence in the film, ‘Nanny’ is also a story about immigrant exploitation. If that has made you wonder whether actual events inspire the movie, we’ve got you covered.

Nanny is a Fictional Tale

No, ‘Nanny’ is not based on a true story. However, elements of reality are deeply embedded into the narrative. Director Nikyatu Jusu developed the movie from a script that she wrote. It is an exploration of the immigrant experience in America. Interestingly, Jusu came up with the concept when she was still a student in NYU’s graduate film program, watching the nannies in Manhattan.

“All these Black and brown women pushing strollers along the streets,” the filmmaker stated in an interview with The Guardian. “You had the Filipino nannies here, the Jamaican nannies, the Haitian nannies. It was like the United Nations of nannies. That was the catalyst for me to begin to map out my story.” Besides, Jusu used the life of her own mother, Hannah Khoury, as inspiration. The latter owned businesses, wrote books, and worked as a domestic worker. The last one was the most reliable source of income for her.

“It’s one of the most accessible forms of work for African women in America,” Jusu told the same outlet. ‘Nanny’ is not the first movie to explore the horror genre through the lens of immigration. Remi Weekes’ ‘His House’ and Santiago Menghini’s ‘No One Gets Out Alive’ deal with similar themes. In an interview with The AU Review, the director reflected that it took her eight years to develop the script and called the film a love letter to her parents.

“The lore and the mythology allowed me to have a distance, even in the creative process, from a story that was very aligned with my mother’s story,” the filmmaker explained. ”But yeah, writing is hard. It’s lonely. I love co-writing. I’m co-writing one of my next projects with another brilliant screenwriter. And then another project (has) a whole other screenwriter, and I’m just directing. I love having a healthy distance. I think I wrote as a means to put myself in the director’s seat because writing is the most accessible and cheapest part of this process for creators.

Jusu continued, “I wrote something I knew that only I could direct so that it wasn’t a situation where I wrote this brilliant script, and they were like, ‘This is brilliant, we want to finance it, but we’re going to hand it off to Quentin Tarantino.’ God forbid. I love him, but this is not his film. I knew I had to write something that undeniably only I could direct, but I’m also not one of those people who romanticize the process of writing. I’m pretty good at it, but it’s really hard for me. It’s lonely. I overthink every word, every sentence, even in a script. I love Eric Heisserer, who wrote ’Arrival.’ The way he approaches screenwriting is really poetic.”

During the same interview, Anna Diop revealed that there are parallels between the lives of her and her mother and that of Aisha. The actress’s mother left Senegal when the former was five years old to give her daughter a better future, just as the protagonist does in the movie. Clearly, the writer-director of ‘Nanny’ and its main star drew from their personal experiences and those of their respective families for the project, but it’s ultimately not based on a true story.

Read More: Where Was Nanny (2022) Filmed?