Are there any recurring themes or motifs that tend to show up in the work you create, and try to include in each project you make?
There are certain themes that I obsess over in my work, and every story I engage with or character I construct revolves around these themes. My general question for my work is "What does it mean to find love or acceptance as a woman of color?" I recently explored this through a short film about therapy, where I portray myself as both the therapist and the client. It was vulnerable in a way I am not sure a lot of black women get to be.
Once I made a performance art piece, where I stood and said nothing, and let the screen speak for me, to represent how the identities of women of color are silenced and minimized, and white society projects their own thoughts and feelings onto black female bodies. Right now, all of the scripts I am writing are about a black woman looking for love. Either she doesn’t find it, and the realities of that; or when she does find it, can she have it with fullness?
What are you working on now?
I was recently awarded a grant with New York University called “Hear Us” that is designed to help elevate BIPOC voices. The grant is to work on a short multimedia / documentary project called “The Black School Girl Project.” which highlights the stories and voices of black women who went to private high schools. Most high school movies I found are about the teenage struggle, but they never center women of color, who often have to confront racism, sexism, and classism in these settings. I want to give these women a space to tell their own coming of age stories. Simultaneously, I will be recreating pivotal scenes from their interviews and turning them into short films. The interviews and short films will all be placed on a website, alongside resources for young black women in high school.
I have been working on this project for almost two years now, and it is so exciting to see it finally blossom and come into fruition. I was made aware of this grant by Collaborative Arts Professor Gustavo Aguilar, in my freshman year who walked me through the grant writing process. I then also worked with Collaborative Arts Professor Rebecca Haimowitz in my sophomore year to help strengthen my story. My collaborator and co-writer, Alyssa Goodwin, is a Collaborative Arts student as well. Because we are such a tight knit program, I’ve received a lot of help from the faculty and student body to bring this project to life.
What advice would you give to a high school senior starting their Collaborative Arts creative portfolio?
Have a curious and open-mind. You have to be willing to be challenged and stretched, and so I would definitely try to show that. What makes you unique? What do you do that is a little bit out of the ordinary? Lean into that. We are constantly being asked to challenge a traditional arts education. You don’t have to know everything, or be an expert in one field, but you do have to be willing to try new things, and to bring enthusiasm and passion. You also have to understand the value of working with others. You will do a lot of group work, so being able to let go of your vision, and realize that the whole is more than the sum of its parts. That’s the beauty of this program.