• DeAara Lewis

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Black Girls Can’t Be Superheroes? My Kickstarter Adventure – Week 2


“You have a lot working against you,” Q.T. said.  “You can’t be a witch, a bitch and black, you will lose your entire potential audience.
Black girls can’t be superheroes, it just doesn’t sell.  Then you are using ‘witch’ which scares a lot of black people off and those that do stick around will be offended by the word ‘bitch’,” he casually finished and then sipped his coffee like he had just given me the time.  This was not the time I needed to hear this, considering I am currently running a Kickstarter for a web series featuring a superhero-type character, “The Confessions of a Witch Bitch.”  Although, I went to him to get some suggestions on how to market my Kickstarter campaign better, I was not prepared to be shut down and dismissed.

“So, would it have just been better if I did a show about being a slave or a maid?”  I sarcastically and defensively quipped back.  “Probably,” he mockingly responded.  “Or something religious. Black women in fantasy roles is just not how the world sees you.”

Something inside of me was unsettled after that conversation and when I checked my gut, I realized, a part of me believed him.  Last week was a good week, “The Confessions of a Witch Bitch” received national press on three blogs and I got an interview on one of the top radio shows in Memphis, TN.  We still have about three weeks left in the campaign and about $12,700 more dollars to raise.  Sometimes, I look at that number and think how in the world is that even possible.  Then I look at it again and break it down, “If 508 donated $25 in three weeks, I will make goal.”  It sounds less overwhelming when I think of it like that.

I actually considered “The Confessions of a Witch Bitch” my more “censored” work compared to “Tricks.”, but the title has proven to be a hit or miss.  I’ve thought about changing it to something bland, boring and filled with less charge and every time I consider it, a part of me loses interest in the project.  Being a woman of color who loves science fiction, thrillers, horror and fantasy does not win a lot of fans – initially, but I’ve always believed that if I produced strong work then it would speak for itself.

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Attention Hollywood and the Music Industry! Wake Up!

Can a 47 year old woman still chase her dream of being a pop star?  Could a full figured woman have a realistic chance at becoming a leading lady in Hollywood?  Could a person of color actually own a studio and produce their own movies on their own terms.

Each and everyone one of these stories are possible and they have happened.  My problem is, they haven’t happened enough.  What kind of industry would entertainment be if it solely gave opportunities to people based off of their talents and not looks?

Is Hollywood listening to the people?  Is the music industry listening?  The reason that Susan Boyle has become a sensation has just as much to do with her story as it does with her talent – she reflects real people who have dreams.  Real artist who have given up because they were told that they were too old, too fat, too ugly, too ethnic or whatever other degrading adjective that could added.

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Would You Work for Free? Then why ask a Filmmaker to do it?

I recently did an interview with FoxNews.com about the effects that the recession is having on the Hollywood Box Office.  We talked quite in depth about the state of independent films and this conversation got me to thinking about what can I do as a consumer and as an independent filmmaker to support more.  One thing I don’t do is buy bootleg, because it’s taking away from a producer, director, writer, actor and their families.

When people try to challenge me on this and say they don’t have any money to buy the real DVD or go to the movies, I ask them,  “Then why don’t you work for free? Or take a 75% pay cut?” They then look at me as if I have lost my mind.  And that is when I tell them, when you buy a bootleg DVD or download it for free online that’s basically what you are doing to a filmmaker.  You are asking them to put their blood, sweat and tears into their work and just give it to you for free.

Filmmakers and producers, especially independent filmmakers and producers depend on that income to live and to make their next project.  If a person’s boss came in and told them they were no longer going to pay them for the work that they did because it costs too much, I think “going postal” would triple in America.  So why ask a filmmaker to do the same thing?  Some thing to think about.

What I learned from Bea Arthur…

I was literally shocked when I learned about Bea Arthur’s death.  I’ve watched “The Golden Girls” so much that I had forgotten that she had actually gotten much older than what I was use to seeing on t.v. “The Golden Girls” has always and will always be my favorite show for so many reasons.  I loved that show so much that I wrote a paper on its cultural impact in college.  My best friend, Mel and I, would have contest to see who knew the most episodes (we always tied).

I think what inspired me about “The Golden Girls” is that the show showed how much fun life could when wisdom catches up with you.  In this society, especially in entertainment, 30 is considered middle aged.  So much so, that parents often start grooming their children for Hollywood shortly after they give birth to them.  And if you are singer, you had better realize that’s what you want to do by the time you are 10, because you will spend at least 10 years trying to break into the industry.  I always find it funny when I read about a new artist, that’s like 19 years old, and they say that they have been in the “industry” for a decade by that point.  Don’t get me wrong, I admire and honor people who realize their dreams early (as did I) and go after them 150%.

What I don’t admire however, are those people who realize their dreams a little later in life (whatever that means) because they actually had a chance to live, but get the doors slammed in their face because they are considered too “old.”  For actors that’s about 35, for singers, probably 26 on average.  It’s a sad song.  Because many of the riches stories and songs come from artist who have actually lived and experienced life.

My father made a good point the other night, he said that entertainment is based on “new.”  Something “new” has to keep coming out because America has Attention Deficit Disorder.  New musicians don’t have the time to really nurture their craft and find their voice because if they sign a major record deal, they have the pressure of having to go gold or platinum. And if they don’t, well, we don’t hear about them again because they are now old and unproven.

There are exceptions, many actually that I have seen.  “The Golden Girls” being one of them.  Who would have thought that a show about women in their fifties and sixties would be a hit? And their was never a dull moment amongst those women because they LIVED and that may their characters so much more interesting.  And the real women behind the characters were even more fascinating because they all had been in the business so long that they had comedic & dramatic timing, improvisation, beats and everything else specific to a performer down to perfection.  Those characters were convincing because the women had experience in life and plenty of context to pull from.  How nice it would be if Hollywood could get that wine truly gets better with age.

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