So she wrote her own script, a delicate, ambiguous tale of a family's turbulent summer, as witnessed by Eve, an imaginative 10-year old.
Lemmons was reluctant to let anyone see her script, but, pushed by her husband, actor Vondie Curtis Hall, she eventually showed it to the studios. They liked it. But people told her she was out of her mind, that no black art film had ever made more than $2.7m - and she wanted a budget of $4m.
Things finally fell into place when Samuel L Jackson saw the screenplay and wanted the role of Louis Baptiste, Eve's philandering father. He also signed on as actor and producer.
Lemmons's screenplay is a gift to other black actresses, such as Lynn Whitfield, Debbi Morgan and Diahann Carroll, who all appear in important roles which the writer/director believes are different to anything that they would usually expect to play.
'Eve's Bayou' is on general release