By Kyle Harvey
“When we shine, everybody shines.” – Michaela Angela Davis, cultural critic
“I Rise” is a short film thats dedicated to all the sparks that ignite #BlackGirlMagic.
In a partnership with McDonald’s and Coca Cola, critically acclaimed filmmaker Yoruba Richen (“The New Black,” “Promised Land”), takes her audience on a ride/ journey of how black women from all different walks of life find their personal and professional truth while still living in the moment. This is where they rise.
And what better time is it for black women to shine? 2016 has collectively been an awakening, a second renaissance in Black cinema and TV, where diversity is at a premium. From “Scandal” to “How To Get Away With Murder,” to the recently premiered “Queen Sugar” and “Insecure” on the horizon: Peak blackness on the screen is becoming a standard. And it’s here to stay.
“I Rise” is a testimonial of black women persevering when no other options immediately present themselves for success. “I Rise” singer and star, Andra Day, found her passion for performing at the age of 16. Though the San Diego native’s “big break” didn’t happen until Stevie Wonder discovered her later into her career, the odd jobs in between would have deterred someone who wasn’t able to find a way.
“I didn’t have any money for a long time either. I was cleaning apartments, I had a paper route…I worked from 9pm to 6am.”
Brandice Nicole Daniel’s path started off a tad bit different. The former fashion student and Tennessean, after applying and being routinely denied to attend FIT, turned no’s into fuel for her next project. As the founder of Harlem’s Fashion Row, Daniel now controls the premiere event of color during the semi annual New York Fashion Week.
“Anytime somebody is missing or being underrepresented, I’m quick to say ‘Hey! something isn’t right around here.’” said Daniel. In 2007, Daniel began to do extensive research into the numbers of how many designers of color were being featured during fashion week. “At the time I could only find two.”
New Orleans council member, LaToya Cantrell also saw a need in the Crescent City. The former Xavier University graduate, from a small age, had civic duty ingrained into her by her parents. “At 13, my mother made me the secretary for our local chamber of commerce.” During Hurricane Katrina Cantrell avoided the flood damage by traveling to Houston,
Post Katrina it was easy for her to dedicate her time and calling to the city. “I saw so much despair,” Cantrell recalled.
“Most of us grew up with family members that had side gigs. I like to say to the people that we can do surgery and hair at the same time,” proclaimed Digital Undivided founder, Kathryn Finney. “We can create out of nothing. We’ve literally been doing it for so long. And if we’re just getting a little nudge or encouragement? Who knows what we can do.”
Is that literally Black Girl Magic? You be the judge of that. But you’d be hard pressed to find women of diaspora, who all have different experiences, and yet the same struggle. Be on the look out for “I Rise” coming to a screen near you.
Check out the trailer for the film:
About the author:
Kyle Harvey is writer and producer. Building a career between the intersections of sports, entertainment and culture, his work has been cited by The Huffington Post, MTV, NBC Latino and Revolt TV, with guest appearances that include Sirius XM, Hot 97, and MSNBC. Check out some of his work on soulhead.