October 29, 2023

Feedback from Pilar Alessandra and Jonterri Gadson

DON’T FORGET DOROTHY written by Jana Smith (sci-fi feature)

A veteran actress and her daughter are both dealing with an identity crisis, body dysmorphia, and the pressure to meet society’s expectations of them when they are offered an opportunity to participate in a neurological experiment that would erase every racist, sexist, and hurtful memory that formed their insecurities; giving them the chance to restart their lives as free Black women.​

Featuring Shirley Jordan, Tehana Weeks, Conni Marie Brazelton, Bonnie-Rae Sunshine, Trip Langley, Caro Guzmán, Ashley J. Hobbs, Tamara McMillian, Janessa St. Pierre, and Inger Tudor

Jana Smith (she/her) is a Gary, Indiana-bred, interdisciplinary writer, filmmaker, and cultural worker passionate about intergenerational stories about women and femmes. Her prose has been published in Essence magazine! Jana was awarded the Inaugural Ida B. Wells Disrupting the Master Narrative Award for her film script, Baptême. She also participated in Ryan Murphy’s “Half Initiative” for rising writers, directors, and creatives. Jana wrote Built to Last a podcast by American Express hosted by Elaine Welteroth. She has worked for the Human Rights Watch Film Festival, The Good WifeMadam Secretary, HBO’s Random Acts of Flyness, America ReFramed, and POV. In 2018, her pilot was a finalist in the MACRO Episodic Story Lab. She studied filmmaking at Sarah Lawrence College. Her work examines the intersection of Black womanhood, erased historiographies, and intergenerational healing (basically, whatever she’s having an existential crisis about). The stories she tells often interrogate shame––illuminate the interior lives of women––and imagine a more human-dwelling future. Through her work, she strives to reflect the truth of our time while encouraging audiences to re-imagine our collective power for radical love and compassion. She is currently directing and producing a narrative audio drama centering Black women, love, and liberation, which she wrote titled Red for Revolution.

FARE by Karan Kendrick (suspense short)

A 50-something black woman, tired of losing, creates a deadly game that only she can win.

Featuring Tamika Simpkins, Shirley Jordan, Bonnie-Rae Sunshine, Chinai Routté, Gita Reddy, Kenajuan Bentley, Rod McLachlan, Leonard A. Thomas, and Toccarra Cash

Hailed for her powerfully nuanced portrayal of “Minnie McMillian” in the blockbuster Just MercyKaran Kendrick is among the artistic elite.

Additional credits range from The Hunger Games (Lionsgate), and The Hate U Give (20th Century Fox); to television favorites like Grey’s Anatomy (ABC), Greenleaf (OWN), and most recently, “Candace” on All American: Homecoming(CW).

In addition to her work as an actor, Karan is a philanthropist, speaker, and Honorary Astronaut (NASA Ames). Her long-standing passion, however, is the work she does through her arts organization, The Kendrick Academy (TKA), where she has served tirelessly to provide students with the opportunity to build character, discipline, and an eternal passion for the arts for over a decade.  Based in her hometown of Fort Valley, GA, TKA offers weekly acting and dance classes to students ages 3 to 85. In 2020, her Academy expanded to virtual acting and screenwriting classes and continues those offerings today allowing her to serve students in 7 states and counting.

As she expands her role as storyteller to include writer, Karan states: “I want to tell stories that center Black Women in the middle of their own discourse. I want to position us in the luxury of being human, vulnerable, weird, weak, warrior, and loved, all at the same time. I want to remind us to burn the cape, and keep the flame.”