It’s Time For More Multidimensional Stories in TV/Film of Black Larger Body Darker Skinned Women As More Than Your Joke,Your Maid or Emotional Support Bestie.
When I was in college studying for my Bachelors in Theatre Performance I felt inundated with messages that Black,Fat/Plus Size, Dark Skin Women (and Young women in particular) were not going to get work in the industry. I was crushed for a lot of reasons but mainly because acting had become like my second skin.
I grew up training pre-pro in dance and felt isolated from that community because of my weight as a young girl. To fight to push through my own fears around performance after shifting away from my intensive dance training to acting only to get another message that the world was not accepting or desiring of Black,Plus Size, Dark Skin Girls in multidimensional roles was infuriating.
I was being told I’d never be Juliet, I’d never be the love interest, I’d probably never be seen in a dynamic role and not because I couldn’t do the work but simply because the narrative of a Black,Larger Body Woman existing in the world as happy,carefree, desirable, ambitious and all the emotional spectrum was apparently too complicated for people too image. I was being sold that I was limited to being the butt of the joke, the victim for trauma porn or the nanny or whatever extra role made me tolerable but didn’t take up too much space in this very thin, very able-bodied, very white or white passing industry (which obviously does not reflect our actual world). And I got tired and quite honestly defeated.
Hearing all this, I took the pain and disappointment I felt and started building #reclaimingyoursexy and sensual moving meditation practice designed to help women release, reconnect and embody vibrancy through dance. I wanted to create a safe space for women - all women- especially women that looked like me to feel sexy,desirable and uninhibited in their bodies. I wanted women to know that we could take up space in the world unapologetically without question. I knew I wanted to perform but I couldn't stomach more of the same mistreatment that I had already experienced as a child in dance for over 10 years at that point.
I used the beginning building of #reclaimingyoursexy to heal my body image and build my courage. And as I rebuilt the way I saw myself I started to feel this courage to not only teach women how to feel sexy but to create narratives around our bodies through film that actually reflected our whole story. In 2014 I went to my friends Zarinah Ali (Director) and Chanel Glover (Screenwriter) and said I need to create a film showing a Woman of Size feeling confident, sexy and desirable and specifically for it to be a story about two Black Queer Women Reclaiming the passion in their relationship and thus Sex Is A God Thing was born in a matter of two weeks on less than a $500 budget.
Over the years I have witnessed women like @iamjhud @violadavis @gabby3shabby @daniebb3 @lizzobeeating @therealchandrawilson @octaviaspencer show up and show the fuck out in the world in roles that I was told would never exist. From Dreamgirls to Orange Is The New Black to Hidden Figures and Rocking The Music Festival Stages these Temptresses have been being bold, audacious, vibrant and unapologetic. These women have become guiding lights for me in knowing that it IS possible to be seen in our full spectrum of experiences. I knew I needed to keep going because this work, this mission of changing the narrative in media of Black Larger Body Women, was bigger than me. It’s for all the women who are tired of being marginalized, forgotten and cast aside. It’s for the little girls behind us who need to know that their bodies are worthy,valid and beautiful in all shapes and sizes. It’s for us - so we know that we can fully take up space in this world without apology.
In 2014 I shared my first microfilm with my community and we reached so many women who said they needed to see a Plus Size woman being more than the old storylines we were use to and they appreciated that presence on screen. Then in 2017 our film resurfaced exploding from 25k views to over 10 Million viewers on social platforms. Beyond the numbers,the most impactful part of this experience has been, meeting women from all over the world in the #reclaimingyoursexy class who are DONE accepting people in their life treating them as optional, throwaway, replaceable or moveable parts because our bodies do not live up to this unnecessary standard of appeal. We are clapping back and saying F*** that I deserve to be here, I deserve love, I deserve adoration, I deserve to be desired, I deserve to be seen fully, I deserve to be more than your quiet side chick, I deserve to be more than the shoulder people cry on, I deserve to be amplified and elevated and loved on and a whole snack in this world that continuously tries to tell us (in words and actions) otherwise. Enough is enough. Seeing these women in class is one of the many reasons I have continued to push this story forward.
Over the last four years since the release of our microfilm we have been working on Sex Is A God Thing - The Web Series. The Web series “Sex Is a God Thing” charts how race, sexuality, and spirituality intersect for two women, Michelle, and Aiesha, who find sisterhood in the wake of grief as said by Women and Hollywood.
I would love for you to learn more and become a show backer today! In 3 days our #seedandspark campaign for @sexisagodthingwebseries will end and we are working furiously to reach our funding goal $17,040. If you want to see more stories featuring Black Women in multidimensional, joyful,complex and vibrant roles in digital media and tv I would love for you to support our campaign. Visit the link below to make a pledge. We need your support and cannot make this without and quite honestly we don’t want to. We want to create media that you crave. ❤️