Well this is timely, eh?
Last week was difficult for women (understatement). Luckily I had the voices of these charming, inspiring, young women in my headphones all week encouraging me toward optimism.
Pictured above- Jesssica Diamfimpa, Chassydi Crane, Dominique Williams
Episode 2 of our collaboration with The Social Justice Learning Institute is the identity episode. Every girl must walk her own path. These are three stories, from the 'world wide open' of childhood to the independence of womanhood, and all the trials, choices and joys in between that shape our destiny. Each act brings us a distinct voice and style, yet the three acts together create an integrated representation of what it's like to grow up black and female in South LA. We also hear a supporting cast of real fairy godmothers in the form of friends, grandmas, and moms.
Act 1:Blu's Fairytale - How do you code your heart's desire?
Jessica Diamfimpa's modern fairytale follows a classic princess problem-follow your heart or your duty?
When we came up with this idea in a brainstorm session, Jessica, (13) seemed so reluctant and shy. Until we came up with the idea of doing a play. Then we found out that she is a writer, and loves to write plays for her family and friends to perform. Even her parents, who want her to become a coder play parts. Her story is definitely a case of art imitating life. Dictating to Natalie, our fabulous USC intern, Jessica created her plot and characters. Calling on Daniel P. Castillo's film background, she created a dialogue and solid script. She directed the Fairytale Players (all of us) in a classroom setting and narrated her story like a pro. (Credits hilariously read by Zeno as Jay-Z in the Podcast). Jessica's segment, more than any other, brought the whole group together. This shy girl blossomed before our eyes. Not saying it was because of us, but like any good fairytale, the princess was there all along. She just had to grab her crown!
Act 2: The Girl Perceives - You're going to know her name.
Things may be tough in South Central, but Chassydi Crane, (17) is her own built in cheer squad. With an open heart and open mind, she shares her own unique all American high school experience.
It's always the quiet one. Chassydi, with her baseball hat low and straightforward fact based approach to every question. Not shy; confident, but quiet and always observing. We thought she was going to report on the subject of female high school students with statistics. Which she did, admirably. But when it was game time in the booth, we met 'That Chassydi.' She exploded on the the field with the energy of the cheer performer she is. Even though she is talking about serious matters of life and death and challenges any adult would have a hard time with, you can almost hear Chassydi's pom poms shaking. What is truly heartwarming is her lack of prejudice when it comes to others who might not have her strength or the support of someone like her mom. Her observation skills are sharp. She sees people beyond their labels. Facts are the rules of a game you might win or lose, but each game is gonna get your all and it's going to be fun. After all, the season is more than just one game.
Act 3: The Woman- From Inglewood to Loyola Marymount, she is more Dorothy than Cinderella-there's no place like home!
Dominique Williams finds the power was hers all along.
Dominique (19) is ultra together. A refined young woman who has brains as well as beauty. She was the catalyst for the 3 Act idea. In the fairytale frame, she is the one who has been to the ball. Turns out it was meh. Living in Inglewood with loving family and friends who sacrifice for her to attend privileged private school. This is where identity really begins. We are born into a circumstance, we observe and grow. Then the choice is up to you. How do you define yourself when everyone else is trying to do it for you?
This episode features an anthem of feminine power, confident and chill, in 'Crystal' by Quest.
'Smile' by Young Ambition, perfectly reflects Chassydi's outlook. Life can be tough, but we deserve to be happy. The cheer sounds slipped onto it like a glove.
Follow the links to SoundCloud to get more of their talent.
Young Ambition aka. Kevin Miles, appears in the Art Connection episode of Changing the Narrative coming up soon. He is also a talented film maker.
Enjoy the show!
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Changing the Narrative is supported in part by a generous grant from the California Arts Council, a state agency. Learn more at arts.ca.gov