I often create in a bubble, wondering if there's any place for work like mine. I'm a country black chick with stories so unique to my culture that I wonder if I'll ever be able to present work that the mainstream can understand and/or tolerate. I do believe that good ish is good ish - thus the success of Donald Glover's ATLANTA, Issa Rae's INSECURE and Aziz Ansari's MASTER OF NONE. Those shows are uber-inspiring but both since I don't know these creatives, I make up romanticized stories about their success:
- Of course Donald Glover is popping! Tina Fey picked him to write on 30 ROCK!
- Yeah Issa from Inglewood but she went to Stanford and I think her dad is like a doctor or some ish.
- I mean Aziz is Indian - that ain't black! AND he said "TREAT YO SELF" so of course he is on!"
Again, since I don't know these amazing people, it is so easy for me to come up with grandiose back stories on how they got to where they are. I support these people with all I have because at the end of the day, we have to support our creatives of color the way the others have supported their folk for ages. Last night, I felt blessed to support some new, great, creative shit that reminded me that at the end of the day, great stories will get made. It was also a great moment because the creator wasn't someone I've been following on social media pretending to know their life - this creator was Diarra Kilpatrick, a wonderful and righteous woman I know in real life! And this woman has been working so I hope no one tries to call her an overnight success once this show pops off!
Anywho, I won't bore you with the backstory that started at Agape or the fact that Diarra blessed my short film FOUR WOMEN with her talent (shameless plug). Instead, I'll get to the heart of last night. A beautiful crowd of diverse folk gathered at the swanky Ray Kurtzman Theatre at CAA - I always put on real clothes when I get to go to CAA by the way. Anyway, we gathered to see a preview of THE CLIMB, Diarra's pilot for AMAZON. Her agent introduced the night describing Diarra to a T - giving details on her candor, humor, wit and charm. Mark Gordon himself (yeah the man behind the company who has produced so much stuff from SAVING PRIVATE RYAN to GREY'S ANATOMY) got up to give Diarra and her work props. He also shared the startling fact that THE CLIMB will be Amazon's first project with an African-American female lead and writer (yeah I forgot to mention this girl is officially a beast writing and starring in her ish!). Then Diarra graciously and gracefully got up to thank her team, her cast and crew and introduced her work. Going in, I only knew that the project was set in Detroit. I purposely skipped reading the script because I wanted to be surprised and surprise is an understatement.
Quite frankly, THE CLIMB is great! I won't go too far into the story as I want you to experience the joy I felt of entering a new world with new characters - no seriously I hate spoilers because I just want to go where the writer wants to take me. Diarra took me to modern day Detroit and I can simply relate to her Nia in ways that 8 MILE just didn't capture.
You can see THE CLIMB on Amazon Video this Friday, November 10. You have to sign up for Amazon Prime but hell if you sign up for the free shipping for a month, please do the same to support this show this week! They also give a free 30 day trial so just do it please. I know and I get that there are all kinds of ish you can spend your time, money and energy on these days, but like Jay said first I have to focus on the world I know. What I know is this tv/movie ish. I also know community. When our people create something, I know we are to gather around and support it. Here Amazon is giving us the opportunity to really gather around it. Unlike other networks and studios who decided the fate of their pilots, Amazon turns that power over to subscribers. After watching, there is a survey which gives feedback on the show. Please please please tune into The Climb on Friday and then fill out the survey and vote for this show.
I'm going to be a bit dramatic but this vote is as important as any other "election". Our representation in/on film/tv matters. Think about back in the day when we had all the black shows - shit was good! I mean how many of you legit enrolled at an HBCU because of A DIFFERENT WORLD? We need NEED NEED people who look like us on ALL platforms - especially when they have done some good ish! Rupi Kaur said "Representation is vital otherwise the butterfly surrounded by a group of moths unable to see itself will keep trying to become the moth." Get this girl's show picked up so we can all be butterflies please!
Ok that's my plea for THE CLIMB. I'll be bugging reminding you to watch on Friday. In the meantime, get to know more of DIarra's work by checking out two seasons of AMERICAN KOKO on ABC Digital.
Diarra's work reminds me there is indeed a space for my stories and all of our stories. There is a place for our work in the world. Climb on good people!