New Yorker in the Spotlight: Stacey Muhammad
Stacey Muhammad is a filmmaker, activist and mother. Muhammad also founded Wildseed Films to allow her voice and vision to be heard through the use of film to tell stories about our community. Rolling out was able to catch up with her briefly and ask her some questions. –martin pratt
What led you to start using film to tell stories?
I did a lot of community work, years ago, as a managing editor of an HIV publication and witnessed how much could be done and changed with the written word. So, I started to write and began using media and film to shed light on the issues I felt were important. After moving to New York and going to film school, I realized that this is something I absolutely love, live and, more importantly, need to do.
How did you get the young men to participate in I Am Sean Bell?
The young boys who participated in the I Am Sean Bell film attended middle school with my daughter at the time and were a part of a leadership program, Walk Like A King. I reached out to the school and, along with the parents, they agreed to allow them to be a part of the film. Not only did they know about the Sean Bell murder, but they all had very strong feelings about police terrorism in their communities and didn’t hesitate to share them for the film.
What is your latest project?
“For Colored Boys, the Evidence of Things Not Seen,” the web series and feature-length documentary film is my latest project. Both the film and web series explore the criminalization, demonization and targeting of black men in America. Told through real-life stories, the docudrama web series will highlight the lives of black men from all walks of life. The film, looks at the ways in which the lives of black men have been affected in eight areas (the effects of racism, integration, trauma, post-traumatic slavery syndrome, homicide, suicide and depression as well as the assassination of the black male image through media and the unprecedented number of black men targeted by the prison industrial complex).
What are the Reel Oscars, and how do you see them impacting black films?
The REEL Oscars, the first annual Micheaux Awards, was inspired by a letter I wrote to the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences, “thanking” them for the 27 Academy Awards given to African Americans in the world of film. [More than 2,700 awards have been given out over the past 83 years.] Named for Oscar Micheaux, this award show was created as an avenue to recognize, celebrate and award the best, the brightest and the often overlooked in the world of film.
Give us five of your favorite films.
Wow, that’s hard … in no particular order:
Dreams, a 1990 film by Japanese film director Akira Kurosawa
Paris Blues, a 1961 film directed by Martin Ritt, starring Sidney Poitier, Paul Newman and Diahann Carroll. Great film!
Do the Right Thing by Spike Lee. Classic!
Sankofa by Haile Gerima. Brilliant film and director!
Sugar Cane Alley, directed by [black female director] Euzhan Palcy