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The Art of it All with Director Sewra G Kidane

Sewra G Kidane is a highly esteemed Creative Commercial Film Editor, renowned for her work with prestigious fashion and beauty brands such as Creme of Nature, Estée Lauder, Herring & Herring, and Ooshie. She is also an acclaimed Director and Editor, known for her award-winning fashion film titled "Punctuation Punctuation." This influential film has garnered national media coverage, including recognition on Forbes' list of "The 12 Best Fashion Films" and Aesthetica Magazine's "5 To See Fashion Films." Additionally, it has received numerous awards, including "Best Visual Moving Art," "Best Short Film," and "Best Glam Fashion Film." Inspired by the lack of representation for Black fashion, glamour, and beauty in the fashion film industry, Ms. Kidane decided to carve her own path. Her unique vision and meticulous artistry have allowed her to redefine the genre of fashion film. Her latest work, "As Above," is currently touring the festival circuit and has already been selected for prestigious events such as the 2019 LA Fashion Festival, 2019 Women of The Lens Festival in London, 2019 Reel Sisters Film Festival in NYC, and 2020 Blackstar Film Festival in Philly. "As Above" has also received nominations for Best Director at the 2019 Croatia Fashion Film Festival, Best Glam at LA Fashion Festival, and Best Fashion Film at the 2020 Taste Awards, as well as Best Score at the Hollywood Art and Movie Awards. The film has already won two esteemed awards: Achievement in Narrative Short at the 2019 Silicon Valley African Film Festival and the Stylemaker Award at the 2020 Taste Awards in Beverly Hills, marking the second time Ms. Kidane's work has received this prestigious honor. However, Sewra G Kidane's creative talents extend beyond editing. She is also a skilled jeweler, having established her own jewelry line called "Waist Beads by Sewra." Specializing in artistic beading and contemporary waist beads, a tradition of ancient adornment, her jewelry complements and influences her editing work. Both editing and beading serve as inspiration for each other, encouraging her to continually push the boundaries of her artistry. These seemingly distinct elements ultimately converge to form a beautifully curated ensemble. Raised in New York City and a graduate of Emerson College in Boston, Sewra G Kidane currently resides in New York City. In addition to her client work and directing fashion films, she imparts her knowledge as a teacher, offering courses in "Film + Fashion" and "Edit + Post" at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. Currently, she is also in post-production for her next two fashion films: "Bitch I Got An Attitude," featuring editorial model Iman Mariah, and "The Monks of Brooknam," a conceptual fashion film that explores issues of gentrification in Brooklyn, created for menswear designer Anitra Michelle.

"I know what I USED to see and I know what I WANT to see, and I am seeing NEITHER so, I create it."

Interview with Sewra G Kidane for issue 15

How would you describe your artistic style?

My artistic style visually is Black Glamour and Sophistication. I’m not seeing enough Black woman photographed lavishly in ultra luxurious settings. I’m not seeing the wind blowing through our hair. The sparkle, and sheen of it all. I miss that. My fashion foundation is the golden era of supermodels, fashion spreads and fashion shows with performance modeling. I like to include the spirit of that in my work. I’m still exploring what my “marker” is. What identifies my work as mine without having to see my name. I have a sound marker I use at the end or beginning of my films…an exhale my composer Alexia Riner made for my fashion film “As Above”. I’ve been playing with lenses, and lighting and camera angles to see what I like. Doing my Gee Spot Test Shoots helps me work that out! It’s a no pressure shoot and I work the camera and lighting and practice my interactions with my models. It helps me continue to understand the camera and try out different things with lights without someone breathing down my neck. That’s what “718-Charles” is. I had just got a new camera and I asked Charles if he wanted to play! My work definitely has a feminine essence to it. Like, you know intrinsically that a woman directed it when you watch it. Black women don’t always get to be shown soft and leisurely, so I like to bring that aspect into my work. But STRUCTURALLY, the way my work is cut, the way I lay my fashion stories out… that style artistically is all about hitting that Gee Spot. My creative crew is called Gee Spot Cine, a double entendre on my middle initial …. And all of my work is cut to illicit a cinematic orgasm! I start with a bit of foreplay… I never fully reveal. I give you hints and teases at a time (gotta warm you up) and then I start to reveal more of the beauty and before you know it, you’re fully engrossed. I end it all with an impactful shot, image or feeling. Giving you space to let go and exhale with a happy ending. I believe in happy endings! Literally and figuratively. I tell happy, feel-good stories because we need safe cinematic spaces to just experience a story or get wrapped up in fantasy and everyone lives and excels in the end!

Starring Charles J. Johnson Director + Director of Photography Sewra G Kidane

Art Direction James Meade Color Grader Mary Perrino + La Voglia Studio Mix + Sound Design Sewra G Kidane Music Azealia Banks Ft Onyx “Salchichon

Fashions La Perla Pas Le Mode Charles J By Charles J. Johnson

Are there any artists or movements that have influenced your artistic style? How do you showcase this in your work?

Diana Ross. I am a Boss Ross Disciple. She is the main thread in everything I create. I reference her in all of my boards. It shows up either as a direct reference, a nod, a mood, or vibe. She is the bar when it comes to glamour and sophistication for me. In “As Above”, I referenced the scene from “Mahogany” where she’s pouring wax on herself and brought the spirit of that scene into mine. It’s slight. A majority of the time, the reference is more for me. Easter eggs I create for myself and if the audience finds them even better! Some other artists who influenced and inspired me are Gordon Parks, Diana Vreeland, Erwin Blumenfield, Richard Avedon.

What inspires you to create art?

For me, I’m inspired by what I’m not seeing. The amount of mediocracy is unbelievable right now! Everything is the same! A redux, a remix of a remix of a remix, a relaunch… society is just regurgitating the same ideas and concepts. So I always think about what I’m not seeing, because at heart, I’m a consumer. I take in a lot of things, like references, media, art, fashion. I know what I USED to see and I know what I WANT to see, and I am seeing NEITHER so, I create it.

I’m also influenced by the whole Disco era and Hip-Hop as a whole. For me, disco music is my gospel music. It awakens my spirit and soul and just takes over my whole body! That feeling of just feeling GOOD. Disco… good disco takes your worries away. You can’t tell me Sylvester isn’t audible Calgon!! A lot of 70’s elements find their way in my work. Like music, or hair, or simple as a makeup look to the way I have it color graded. Hip-Hop is in my DNA so it shows up in different ways. I’m a B-girl. I like a hard beat with my 16 bars! But mainly I relate my fashion filmmaking to the music industry… cuz industry rule #4080 also applies to the fashion world! I’m very protective about my work, my ideas, my ownership, and access to my work. We’ve seen plenty of Behind the Music’s to know how things can go down!

Which cinematic period do you find most inspiring?

I find movies from the 40s, 50s and 60s inspiring. I’m drawn to in camera production value and movies made during this time did a lot of that just because of the limited resources they had. They worked with celluloid, there weren’t digital effects. They made the most of what they had, and I’m drawn to that, because it helps me to create in camera practicals with what I have (ie: budget) and it also helps me understand creatively blocking scenes. Mission Impossible, the tv series from the 60s, will open with these long one take shots hitting multiple camera angles, setting up the scene in a really clever way. Spielberg does it but the shows during this time did it originally and a lot better. It’s very creative and no one is doing that anymore. I don’t think people even realize it as a style.

What film or television show has influenced your artistry?

Music videos have been more of an inspiration for me than movies or tv shows. I grew up watching TV shows more than I went to the movies. I LOOVE TV! I watched so much television when I was young. But music videos fascinated me! My mom would record them and then I started video taping my own favorite videos which started my personal library. Watching music video world premieres was EPIC! I remember seeing Thriller playing in a van on 125th street in Harlem! Diane Martell was pumping out back to back classic hip hop videos!! She needs to get more credit for her contribution to hip hop cinema! Gangstarr’s “Mass Appeal” and ODB “Brooklyn Zoo” and the videos she did for Mariah Carey are some of my favorites from her! Here’s this white woman doing the most grimiest, hard-core hip hop videos that were authentic and genuine to the culture. She moved fluidly between music genres going from hardcore hip hop to pop, to electronic. She didn’t get pigeon holed when styles changed and even when the industry changed. Diana Martel continues to make some of the most iconic music videos. She makes it look so easy! That woman is so fly! Malik Sayeed. That’s it. That’s all that needs to be said. I recently saw “Belly” again in the theater and that movie STILL holds up! The visual elements Hype was doing in that movie was so ahead of its time and only works in that movie. It has 50million dissolves and weird/wild camera angles. While I as watching it I thought about if the structure of the movie would work in a movie today and it wouldn’t, and that’s so dope. Music videos did more than any movie or tv show could do. The level of imagination and cinematic discoveries! So many of our fav cinematic directors started as music video directors. Francis Lawrence started as a music video director. He had this constant panning that he used in several of his videos. It works really well in Lauren Hill’s “Turn Your Light Down Low”. Tarsem Singh!!! He was ROBBED at MTV’s Music Video Awards for Music Video of The Year! I still hold a grudge after all these years! “Everything is Everything” is a perfect music video! The graphic comping! The concept… the Empire State Building is the turntable drive!!! I reference music videos more with my fashion film work because the two are basically fraternal twins. There’s more freedom to play with music videos and fashion films.

Tell us about your last binge-watch...Have you recently watched something that's a must-see?

I just watched “I Am A Virgo” and that was incredible! Finally some original programming! I was so sad when it ended! I love seeing US in unexpected different roles. A Black GIANT?! Yes please!! I’m going to watch it again, because it’s definitely the kind of show you need to watch a few times to get all the nuances. I’ve been enjoying “Full Circle” on HBO Max. It has this 6degrees of separation angle to it. I enjoyed the “Night Agent” on Netflix too. I’m mainly into spy/espionage/mystery shows, so anytime I can find a really good one, I’m all in! I really loved “Everything’s Trash” with Phoebe Robinson on Hulu! It was the perfect amount of funny, over the top silly with a nice portion of fashion! Anitra Michelle is the Costume Designer on that show and she designed the robe in my fashion film “As Above” and we worked together on 2 fashion films featuring her designs; “The Monks of Brooknam” and “Anitragami”. The Wutang series, also on Hulu, is some of the best TV I’ve seen in a long time. The writing, the acting, the directing… 10s across the board! Season 2 is my favorite with the Staten Island Ferry episode and Ghostface laying down his verse for Protect Ya Neck episode being my absolute favorites that I talk about like a broken record. The show is definitely made for those of us who were there live, because the little touches they do… you would have to have been there live to pick it up! After 36 Chambers, Only Built For Cuban Linx is my ‘ish! Throughout each season the writers incorporated the skits from OBFCL into the dialogue! It’s the best hip-hop show! Mario Van Peebles got both his feet marinating in that pot! Season 3 is great and concludes the series in a nice way.

In your opinion, how do you think the film industry influences society?

At the end of the day film is propaganda. It’s always been that. Whether used for good or bad, it’s going to influence one way or the other. What it influences depends on the film, or trends in the industry. A film can convince someone they’re a superhero, a great singer, or a dreamer. People watch films to get lost in a fantasy and a story and sometimes those stories hit close to home or those fantasies are super relatable and folks start to see themselves in that story. Who's in your thespian Hall of Fame? 1. Va-Va Viola Davis 2. Regina King 3. Lynn Whitfield 4. Jeffery Wright 5. Michael K. Williams 6. Joe Morton

Take us back to your first project, how did that moment prepare you for where you're currently in your career?

My first fashion film “Proclamation Punctuation” taught me to always trust my vision and to trust the process. I learned how to be comfortable in authority because as I move into producing more projects, I have to step more into my big girl panties. But my entire film production career has prepared me for where I am now. From working with my mentor and dearest friend, Rod Gailes OBC editing his work, or crewing on his sets, I learned about community, and working with talent, and how to get the best out of everyone. I learned so much about film from him! I’ve had the pleasure to shadow other directors I’ve cut for and watch them in action. Even my early career cutting tv commercials…. All of that has prepared me for now, and now is preparing me for the bigger tomorrow!

How do you feel about AI art?

What impacts do you think it will have oncreators in the future?So, I can see it both ways for AI. But I lean more towards not liking it.I find it interesting that humans have reached peak mediocracy with everything, and are now turningto ARTIFICIAL intelligence to be creative/create. In editor’s terms... “A dub, of a dub, of a dub, of adub”.Some of the generated fashion spreads I’ve been seeing have been mind blowing! The creativedirection is refreshing, cuz I miss fashion spreads with whole sets and international locations. Giveme the FANTASY of it all. But what’s being generated isn’t something that can’t be created in real lifewith actual wardrobe, locations, styling and models. So I find that aspect lazy and an easy way tosegregate.I like the kind of AI that helps me with spell check, and searching the internet. I like that AI can helpme put a storyboard deck together with generated images because my stick figures don’t alwayshelp and finding specific imagery of Black women is still difficult.With all of that, I don’t trust AI because of the chaos it can/will create with deep fakes and thesecrazy filters. The dark side of AI. It needs major regulation. The internet is the wild west already! Whatdid we learn from that?At the end of the day, a human is still needed to feed and monitor AI, so why not just support humanmade innovation with AI assistance rather than fake innovation with human assistance? Consciousdecisions are being made to dumb down everyone and create a one thought. Fake innovationreplacing genuine source innovation worries me.

What's the body of work you're most proud of?

I’m most proud of my art film “Fifty Four Eleven: An ode to the Round The Way Girl”. I had just finished my first film “Proclamation Punctuation”, and the idea for Fifty Four Eleven started to swirl in my head. I had no idea how I was gonna make it, and when I was going to be able to make it. Editor in Chief of Hycide Magazine, Akintola Hanif asked me if I would be interested in doing a film for the upcoming White Privilege/Black Power issue and I knew Fifty Four Eleven would be perfect! It came together so magically too! I put a call out for double dutch jumpers and Ms. Kay from Ms. Kay’s Dance Academy in NY came through with 2 of her jumpers! My DP Alfonso Pollard was available, my stylist Chandra Moore and Makeup artist Dominique Jenelle were available! And then I met some incredible actresses who gave my film it’s classic look! Janine Hartmann, April De La Sutton, Dèbora Luzincourt and Loris Anne Jones-Randolf. This is when I met Creative Director Sara Yonis. He was doing CD for Hycide and she saw my film and immediately connected to it! She designed the main title and laid out the final type design. I loved talking with her and we had so much in common and similar goals! We’ve been working together since making some dope work! We just finished working on 4x spec commercials for my director’s reel. Working with people I genuinely get a long with and respect their work just makes the process so much easier and enjoyable! Fifty Four Eleven is dedicated to all the Black girls we grew up with 'round the way and to the Black women affected by police brutality with the #SayHerName hashtag. I like to incorporate subliminal messages in my work to keep it layered. The film feels like one thing but is really something else. It’s my political piece without being in your face political. It’s so powerful! I love watching it. It had the opportunity to screen at the Kennedy Center in 2021 with the Reel2Reel Film Festival. That was really special! It’s playing on KweliTV, with my fashion films “Proclamation Punctuation” and “As Above” and on my website. Embracing criticism and negative feedback is an essential part of growth and improvement.

How do you handle criticism or negative feedback on your work?

I LOVE feedback!! And I love to know what people think about my work. I’m nosey like that! Negative feedback and criticism depends on who it comes from. Everybody has something to say! You have to know whose feedback you can trust to take in. Some people are just giving their opinion cloaked as commentary, but not really giving critique with examples and solutions. Those comments I don’t give much weight. I listen to what people have to say, but I don’t follow all of their “advice”. Again, I’m nosey! I’m curious to know how people interpret my work, how it makes them feel, what they like, don’t like. I remember a “film critic” said “Proclamation Punctuation” was loud. I thought that was the most hilarious comment ever AND she let her bias show. Her whole review of “Proclamation Punctuation” was one big dog whistle. The film’s end dedication is a statement that bothers certain people (go figure!). I knew it would and I wanted to see what would happen. For the most part, I was awarded for the quality, content and standard of the film, but there were a few festivals that shut me out for the dedication of the film. That critic was so focused on the dedication, she lost sight of the whole plot of the film, which is such a universal message! There are certain people I counsel with who I trust in their intentions and I trust their opinions. I know they have my best interest when it comes to pushing me further to step it up. Their feedback and critique I take the most into consideration. Feedback overall comes in handy when I’m feeling unsure about my work and when I’m too close to it. I can easily get into a headspace thinking I have to do more or I didn’t do enough (my Virgo tendencies with perfection) and feedback will help me put things back into perspective. It helps me step back and look at things as a whole rather than laser beaming.

Finding the perfect harmony between your artistic style and the collaborating teams' preferences is an art in itself. How do you find the balance?

I work with dope people who are masters of their craft. I do not like to micro-manage people. If you work on my set, it’s because you know what you’re doing. I trust the people I work with to contribute to elevating the vision. I trust their ideas, and input, plus we all have similar taste and end goals. It’s the whole reason they're there! Filmmaking is collaborative, and I’m not the only innovative person on my set. My whole crew are innovators, so the work will always elevate, and they feel even more connected to the work seeing their direct input on screen! When I work with outside collaborating teams, I try to remember the original vision and idea and make sure that is maintained. If I’m the director or editor on a project, that doesn’t mean I’m the main person. The Creative Director could be the main person who brought me in, and I’m there to assist with their vision. It’s always about being a team player and playing your position. I know when to play my position and let other people lead.

Can you tell us about a particularly difficult project you’ve worked on, and what you learned from it?

I worked on projects where the DP and some male crew didn’t respect and listen to me as the Director and where DPs made no creative input on the shoot. It made communicating difficult and created a lot of resistance with my vision. The first thing I did was not have those people on my set again. I like to work in a collaborative way where you make suggestions and we do them. But if you’re just a button pusher then I can do it myself. I work with creative people who understand the technical rather than technical people with no creativity. The other thing I did was teach myself creative DP. I was able to buy a 4k camera dirt cheap and with practice, YouTube and asking lots of questions, I figured it out. I’m in a place where I’m comfortable operating a camera and shooting myself, and I can have a fully fleshed out conversation about lighting with the DP now. I can breakdown exactly what I want and need. I also understand the equipment and know when a DP is just being toy happy! We will not be getting all this equipment and have it just lying around! That happened on two of my sets! One early in my career and another recently and I had to tell that DP about himself afterward!!!

What have you grown to love and/or outgrown in the past year?

I have outgrown society. I’ve had enough of inconsiderate human beings! This pandemic put the mirror up and folks straight showed out! And, yes inconsiderate humans have existed since the beginning of time, but people operating from a ME point of view vs a an US or collective POV has just gotten out of hand and spread like mold! This may sound very crunchy Polly Anna, but I have to create a bubble around me so that I only work with people with the same vibration as me. That includes projects I’m brought onto or projects I helm. If you’re an inconsiderate ass, we can’t work together… ever. In the end, it’s just not worth it. If you had to title this era of your life, what would you call it? And why? “It’s My House, And I Live Here” For one, it’s a very bold statement… very much like The Boss, Ms. Ross herself. This is my arena and I run it, and that’s how I feel about my work. An affirmation to plant my flag in this here creative world, letting you know I’ve arrived … It’s MY house and I live HERE! And in the literal sense, the lyrics to the song are exactly how I welcome you into my world, my house, my set, my heart. I’m a gracious host and friend, and I want to cater and make sure you always feel good (GEE SPOT!) in my presence or on my set. The Leo in me can’t help it!

How do you feel about AI art? What impacts do you think it will have on creators in the future?

So, I can see it both ways for AI. But I lean more towards not liking it. I find it interesting that humans have reached peak mediocracy with everything, and are now turning to ARTIFICIAL intelligence to be creative/create. In editor’s terms… “A dub, of a dub, of a dub, of a dub”. Some of the generated fashion spreads I’ve been seeing have been mind blowing! The creative direction is refreshing, cuz I miss fashion spreads with whole sets and international locations. Give me the FANTASY of it all. But what’s being generated isn’t something that can’t be created in real life with actual wardrobe, locations, styling and models. So I find that aspect lazy and an easy way to segregate. I like the kind of AI that helps me with spell check, and searching the internet. I like that AI can help me put a storyboard deck together with generated images because my stick figures don’t always help and finding specific imagery of Black women is still difficult. With all of that, I don’t trust AI because of the chaos it can/will create with deep fakes and these crazy filters. The dark side of AI. It needs major regulation. The internet is the wild west already! What did we learn from that? At the end of the day, a human is still needed to feed and monitor AI, so why not just support human made innovation with AI assistance rather than fake innovation with human assistance? Conscious decisions are being made to dumb down everyone and create a one thought. Fake innovation replacing genuine source innovation worries me.

Have you ever had a "this can't be happening" moment? Tell us more about this experience.

Being flown out to Paris to edit Rihanna’s Fenty Puma SS2017 fashion show! I was Fashion Filmmaker Charlie Wan’s editor. It was an INTENSE couple of days because of the turnaround! But I would do it all again no doubt! It’s Rihanna!!! So I get to Paris on a Tuesday night and was told to get my sleep now, cuz I won’t be sleeping anytime soon. Wednesday was the show… at midnight! It was in a hotel mansion. When we arrived I was looking around like “I’m really a part of this!!!”. We had to sign an NDA and couldn’t take pictures. It was me and another editor on Charlie’s team, and another video team/company and all of us were in this random room off the dressing room on the second floor. We at least had a window!!! Usually editors get tossed in some random basement with no windows. I was the only Black person in the room and the only woman technician. Charlie had been shooting since the top of the week. He got to be in Rihanna’s presence!! We get to the mansion Wednesday afternoon. Charlie is shooting and dropping footage for me and the other editor on his team to sort through. I have to deliver 3 different cuts for Oribe, Sephora and Young Nails. I was able to walk around backstage a little but not as much as would’ve liked too. I had sooo much work to do in a short amount of time, so I had to really focus. Our cuts had to be turned in by the next DAY! Slick Wood was making her Fenty premiere! I put all the Black models in my cut! We couldn’t leave the mansion till we got the fashion show footage and the show was at midnight, ohh and there were 2 shows! At first we were going to stay at the mansion and finish the cuts but went back to our room and I stayed up the rest of the night to finish. Slept for a few hours, and spent the morning polishing and then we uploaded everything. I was scheduled to fly back to NYC that Thursday night on a redeye (to recap… I got there Tues eve, show was Wed, cut through nite and Thurs am/afternoon). My cuts were approved, but I had to make revisions on the other editor’s cuts. I was making revisions at the airport up until boarding! At this point I had been sitting for about 24hours. My seat on the plane back to the States wouldn't let me stretch my legs properly. When I got home, my back was all messed up. I ending having to sleep with my legs elevated and do stretches and all. Totally jacked my body up. Lesson learned. I land in NYC Fri am and I had to finish those edits because now I’m 5hrs behind everyone still in Paris. I was like, “I need to sleep first!” Cuz now I’m jet lagged. After some rest, I ended up finishing the revisions, posted and soon after approved. But OMG, it was INSANE!!!

The most unforgettable line from a movie. What's that one quote that lives in your mind rent-free?

“Cuz I’ma WINNA! I’m a winna baby! These people love me! And you can’t stand it!! - Tracy “Mahogany” Chambers...The WHOLE scene lives rent free!

How do you handle rejection or not getting chosen for a project or opportunity?

I handle rejection pretty well! I look at it as a blessing in disguise. Like I dodged a situation. I understand I’m not for everyone. What I do and I want to do is very niche, so not everybody is going to get what I do, and that’s alright! I just need the right people to say yes and the right people to know who I am. Now there are times where I feel like I’m a perfect fit and the place thinks otherwise. In those situations, I wonder why, and then chuck it up to their loss. Cuz’ it really is. I can’t be worried about who doesn’t want me. Who DOES want me?? Where them people at!!!

We all face those pesky creative blocks and moments of self-doubt from time to time. How do you effectively navigate creative blocks and moments of self-doubt?

I’m in a creative block right now (*waves s.o.s. flag)!! I don’t like to rush my art and work. I’m not a Virgo, but my Virgo tendencies won’t let me release half-ass work. With everything being digital, once it’s out, it’s OUT permanently, so I’m not gonna put garbage work out, just to put work out. My work is a reflection of who I am. What does that say about ME if I release rushed, patchy work? And I can’t do that to my creative team. They give me 200% of their time and energy. My finished work is also a reflection of them! Also, artist are expected to churn out work every day and that is exhausting! I’m not falling into that expectation. I’m not a machine where I can constantly churn out greatness. That takes time, resources, and brain power. When I’m in a creative block, I just give myself patience and grace. I’ll step away from it to give myself space and fresh eyes. I’ll ask for certain people’s opinion or feedback. I’ve straight up said a prayer, asking award winning creative ancestors to channel through me to help me finish. But it is what it is. I can’t ‘yah mule’ what ain’t moving! We’re creative people. We need time and headspace to spark ideas. When I was cutting my fashion film “As Above” I had to step away from it for almost a year before I finished cutting it. I had hit a wall with my rough cut. That same cinderblock wall in the film in fact! Lol! In the end, it’s one of my most proudest pieces of work I’ve cut! That cut is FIRE!!! But I had to take my time with it. When I have moments of self-doubt, I pull back and think about what it is I’m doubting about myself. Why do I feel like this at this moment? Sometimes it’s just anxiety, but if I’m having a moment of feeling “I’m not whatever at this moment”, I’ll look at my completed work and remind myself that I’m fucking great and have a lot of original ideas and concepts. So snap out of it!! I’ll remind myself of the actual practical of things… people still want to work with me, people say YES when I reach out, people show up when I ring the bell, so that means something. No one gives you their time if you’re wack!

Managing the entrepreneurial aspects of being an artist is crucial for success. How do you handle the business side of the industry?

I do not enjoy the business side. Being bogged down in the administrative part takes me away from being creative which starts to smother my fire. I stay on top of the business side in the sense of, I’m aware of what’s going on, but I don’t want to be the one who actually deals with it on the day to day. The emails, the paperwork, the deal memos. I’m already exhausted! LOL! I just want to make my pretty boards and worry about the creative side. I have been getting more and more help with the producing side, which is great!!! Because I self-finance so many of my projects, I end up wearing a lot of hats making it hard for me to just focus on directing.

With SAG-AFTRA and the WGA on strike in their labor dispute against AMPTP. We're curious to know your take on the current state of the entertainment industry? What message would you like to send to AMPTP?

PAY THESE PEOPLE!!! This just goes back to my point about mediocracy running the world. You have greedy corporate mediocre white men running Hollywood into the ground all in the name of making all the money. There is no industry without the writers to create these worlds and the actors bringing them to life! PAY THESE PEOPLE!! Artists should be able to make a living from their work, and if that work continues in time, they should get paid for that too. This world would be a very boring place without art, but artists are looked as disposable commodities. PAY THESE PEOPLE!! What do you envision for the future of cinema? And where you place yourself in the conversation? I see cinema expanding into different worlds like “I Am A Virgo” and unexpected casting. I want to see more of what we’re not seeing! And I see myself as one of the people helping to expand and innovate the Fashion Film genre and overhauling commercials in beauty advertising for melanated skin.


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