As we celebrate Black celebrities and cultural icons, it is equally important to recognize all of the creative contributions of Black workers behind the screen in production.
The creative industry is a growing economy. Increased representation of Black folks holding creative jobs is essential in combating socioeconomic inequality and segregation within the entertainment industry.
Black creatives tend to be front and center in art and culture, yet less than 9 percent of creative jobs are held by Black people. Within the creative industry and economy, Black Americans are being observed as significantly less likely to occupy key roles. While more than 40 percent of white workers hold creative jobs, less than 30 percent of Black workers hold such positions.
Chucha Studios would like to celebrate and acknowledge the talented team that has allowed marginalized voices to be heard.
I bring visibility to my community through storytelling and connecting with my peers.
As a writer, it's my responsibility to use my platform to share the stories of people in my community who are putting in the work to make a real inclusive change. As for connecting with my peers, I just love seeing my friends working and making money together, so actively circulating opportunities within my community is crucial.
As a first-generation Liberian-American, I’ve always been aware that I’m a visitor in African American culture. Because of this, I try to digest as much knowledge as possible about any project I work on, even if I think I know about it or have experienced it.
I like to ensure I have a few different views to interpret the most accurate visual representation of my client’s vision. I’ve always been interested in reading and researching the origins of tropes, archetypes, and even word origins and how they evolve over time.
This assists with my own storytelling capabilities at a base level, but it also exposes me to being more open to experiences that contrast with my own. Making sure the teams I’m working with are representative of the stories I’m telling is also extremely important to me.
When I’m working on a project that’s telling a Black story, I want to ensure that image-makers are not only Black but can connect with what we're looking to create. Listening is super important but it’s also a great skill to be able to identify when to reject information that's not pertinent to the storyline.
As an African American-Caribbean hair artist, when coming up with looks for my clients and/or personal projects I like to pull inspiration from my surroundings, my culture, my community and fuse it into something new.
My people are so vibrant and creative. Especially when it comes to our hair; they should forever be on display and represented properly.
This is how I mobilize and bring visibility to my community. Show up, show out, and represent every opportunity I get while in the hair industry and beyond.
I love bringing people together. To increase connectivity, I want to be able to package an experience in a way that's obviously sentimental, but also shareable.
For me this is capturing the true essence of a movement or community in whichever form speaks best, shining a light on it, and projecting it to similar minds that can relate to what they see.
Some moments are personable and protected by being present in them, but other times the feeling can be synonymous and speak its own language.
My work is unique in that my skillset is my network and I can truly say I’ve succeeded because of the support of my community.
Producers are often responsible for hiring the crew and I strive to highlight and connect Black creatives with meaningful opportunities that hone their abilities to create and push their stories.
It takes time to find your voice and to know the responsibility of what your voice garners. I am a voice amongst many and I have chosen to use my voice and experiences to represent the community, things, and ideas I find most important.
I believe that it is important to define and present these things because of the opportunity to inform, influence, inspire, and give the next set of minds something to think about.
Along with that, I think it is important to share the knowledge and game with those who come after us. My role as a creator now allows me to be an agent in that movement. Empowering the next agents of change ensures a better and more sustainable landscape for the future of creators of color.
My immediate community of artists all comes from diverse backgrounds and our collective works laterally to support each other's projects.
Through that, we've created a structure where everyone's skillset, both mastered and desired, can be maximized.
Furthermore, I believe referencing my own experiences, culture, and history helps bring more visibility to the stories from within our community across generations.
Throughout history, we see Black people’s beauty regimens as a communal ritual. A ritual that allowed folks to come together, share knowledge, and pass down stories. Allowing them to feel nurtured as they entrusted someone else with the responsibility of caring for their body.
An example of this is Chadian Chebe. Women sit with one another applying Chebe, a mixture of oils and herbal powders, onto each other’s hair while sharing knowledge and culture.
I feel it’s our duty, my duty, to honor these practices. Allowing us to open ourselves to the possibilities of healing through community. Western ideologies and practices have stripped us of various aspects of culture.
I feel we have lost recipes that allowed us to have interpersonal connections and communal moments, but the community is what brings us knowledge, healing, and power. When Black talent sees me on set the energy shift that occurs is palpable.
I feel our DNA holds an understanding that this process involving touch is meant to be shared with someone whom we deem as part of our community. It’s unfortunate that there is a lack of access to opportunities for Black artists and creatives in many of these spaces. Black people deserve the care of Black practitioners always in all ways.
I use photography to break the barrier between, what I like to think, stands between the Black experience (and the world's perception of it) and the lens we choose to see the world through. If I can find beauty, nostalgia, joy, and aspiration in the moments I capture, then I also know I am reflecting the resiliency of being Black.
One of the best ways for anyone in any field to utilize their skills to further their own communities is by actively pursuing projects that align with the inclusion, visibility, and goals of that community.
I tend to pursue clients and projects that either directly benefits communities I care about or provide an opportunity for me to uplift a marginalized community within our project and business model. Representation and visibility are important for the growth and empowerment of any community.
My current project is aimed at finding a missing Pablo Picasso painting. This painting was inspired by the Guadaleopan dancer and model Adrienne Fidelin who is only now being recognized as the painting's model and muse.
Adrienne was featured in the 1937 issue of Harper's Bazaar, making her the first Black woman to appear in a major American fashion magazine. Taking on projects like this gives an extended life to the history of Adrienne Fidelin and furthers inspiration for those of us wandering museum halls desperately searching to find ourselves in a sea of white subjects. For me, bringing visibility to my community means challenging conventional history to include our beauty, our stories, our bodies, us.
My creative practice and art center my community and heritage via the stories I choose to tell.
I’ve also been fortunate enough to be a part of a crew, organize, and connect with folks whose voices speak to the images created. My creative practice is my community practice.
Brandon St. Jean
I use my art to inspire and encourage my community through the medium of photography. My aim is to highlight the best sides of my community through the beautiful and fun stories and projects that I am apart of.
I always try to bring about warm feelings of nostalgia for the viewers. Being a big fan of nostalgia, my work incorporates that through my love of film and the themes I use to portray nostalgia.
There’s a powerful feeling of being immortalized through imagery and even more so for people of color. You’re put in a unique position when you are able to have a voice in art form and I’m thankful that I can be heard in this format.
With the help of my peers, I hope to strengthen that voice and create more powerful pieces that will last and inspire generations.
I use photography to break the barrier between, what I like to think, stands between the Black experience (and the world's perception of it) and the lens we choose to see the world through.
If I can find beauty, nostalgia, joy, and aspiration in the moments I capture, then I also know I am reflecting the resiliency of being Black.