This series is a short introduction into the inspiration of why filmmaker I believe black teen films like AFTER PROM need to exist.
Amandla Stenberg asked America, “What if we loved Black people as much as Black Culture”. The other perspective to that question is, “What if Black people loved themselves as much as the World love’s their culture.”
WHO AM I? How do I define who I am, and by what measures? And if so, who controls the measure by which I am defined? What is the motivation of those who have defined me? Racism is partial motivation but racism alone is not an end in itself but rather a tool for larger agendas.
Black people do not have a monopoly on racism; in fact, we are one of the few ethnic groups in the world which has the opportunity to not be defined by it. So the bigger question becomes not Who Am I, but am I squandering the opportunity to decide, WHO I AM?
These questions consumed me after defending my artistic motives over a hour long phone debate the day before launching AFTER PROM’S indiegogo campaign. My disputant wasn’t seeking to verbally attack or discredit me, rather, forcing me to be aware of what I was doing and why, and attempting to expose the shackles of artistic institutionalization when corporatized value is the only merit for success, instead of social and community value.
At first I thought her argument was centered around inclusion, which I disagreed based on the Frantz Fanon Complex.
In Frantz Fanon’s book “Wretched of the Earth” he states, “The gaze that the colonized subject casts at the colonist’s sector is a look of lust, a look of envy. Dreams of possession. Every type of possession; of sitting at the colonist’s table and sleeping in his bed, preferably with his wife. The colonized man is an envious man.”
It was Jessica Ann Mitchell from ourlegaci.com that brought that relevant outlook to my attention, and with this distinction, I drove home my point of self-sufficiency with bulldog determination.
Tyler Perry, Oprah, Will Packer, Jeff Clanagan, Rob Johnson and more where the evidential references used as ammunition to ground my argument.
I argued how we currently exist in a cold world of corporate value and that, even worse, without a platform to disseminate our version of social and community value. I followed this assault with laid out mental blueprints of how small successes lead to bigger ones, and that ownership is more important than inclusion.
After many more wasted minutes of hurling historical evidences, societal philosophical ideologies and psychological egoisms at each other, I had to do something I’ve only recently trained myself to do with maturity – shut up and listen. But not the disassociated listening in which one waits to pounce on the next opportunity to get a point across, but sincerely engaged and actively listening to hear what the other person was truly saying.
In doing so, something amazing happened. I actually heard what they were saying, and come to find out, we were saying the same thing, just from different perspectives.
She was speaking about the power to control the black image instead of being victimized by it, the significance of ownership and expanding the black narrative from a niche market to a global experience based on the fact humanity is universal.
She was challenging me to think BIGGER! But not just about the movie, but about what my BIGGER purpose for this movie is. She was asking me, to ask myself, that in this universe of entertainment, WHO AM I and WHY AM I.
And that’s when it all clicked. As if someone turned on a light in the kitchen and I was hungry, hell, I was starving with the need for answers. Who am I, and Why am I in this universe of storytelling? In searching for the essence of my passion to tell the story of AFTER PROM, it came to me.
I am nothing more than the 16 year old awkward black kid who felt bullied by stereotypical media portrayals that visually whipped me into accepting their definition of Who I Am.
The media portrayals that mentally scorned my peers and community with the lottery mentality of one-off sports superstars, rich gangsters, musicians and even actors.
The mental scorn of manufactured scarcity with narrowly limited range of the black experience that induced crab mentality darwinism without the inclination of economical justice.
I am nothing more than the 16 year old awkward black kid who didn’t socially fit into the parameters of black masculinity, yet my white friends had the freedom to embody the “lightness” of characters like Duckie from PRETTY IN PINK, Lloyd of SAY ANYTHING and Andrew Clark in THE BREAKFAST CLUB.
In knowing this, an understanding occurred that there were probably just as many 16 year old black girls who felt the same, and hardly got the chance to see beautiful black relationships portrayed on screen. Not to mention in 2015 we still don’t have those movies for our black teens.
The revelation really hit home having a pre-teen niece who’s, if not already, will soon have to begin establishing her own emotional identity within relationships. She has great parents and family support for her journey but from what other influences will she pull from? Music, tv, film?
AFTER PROM was born in an attempt to add reaffirming positive images to the black teens adolescent narrative with the power of the black gaze through a film’s lens. Plus I’m a bit of a Rom-Com junky.
So there you have the why I am and the reason I have chosen to refuse squandering an opportunity to define WHO I AM, in the current day, as retribution to the awkward 16 year old Myron Ward who didn’t believe he had the same opportunity. And AFTER PROM is a love letter to the current black teens seeking to see themselves when looking into the mirror of our society. That’s why when it comes to AFTER PROM, I’m all in, are you?
Myron Ward is a writer/director of the black teen romantic comedy feature film AFTER PROM that is currently undergoing an indiegogo fundraising campaign seeking to raise $10,000 of development funds. He resides in North Hollywood, CA where he writes, produces and freelances in Industrial Marketing for RK GLOBAL.