Janaya and Rockey Black are a Detroit- based husband and wife team who produced the new film Warrior Pride, which is a timely Amateur Athletic Union basketball feature film that explores what it takes to really develop a pre-college level athlete. Written and directed by Janaya Black, Warrior Pride stars her husband, and partner, Rockey Black as the main character, Dylan Baxter. Baxter is the head coach of the Warriors, a Michigan-based AAU basketball team, seeking a national championship while helping his players navigate life both on and off the court. The film is based on Rockey’s real-life experience of more than 18 years as an AAU coach.
Janaya Black serves as president and CEO of Black-Smith Enterprises, an entertainment infrastructure created to house all of her creative projects. After teaming with her husband, she has written, directed and produced a number of projects that included stage productions and short films.
“Warrior Pride is a great family-friendly film that helps us continue to tell stories that will connect with a variety of audiences,” said Janaya. “We are excited to premiere it here first in Detroit.”
Filmed exclusively in metro Detroit, Warrior Pride showcases a plethora of both local and national talent. The film features renowned Detroit rapper Trick Trick, R&B songstress Cheryl “Pepsii” Riley, Dez Cortez Crenshaw, and hip-hop artist Young Buck. The realistic performances of this talented cast will draw the audience to these characters and connect them to the film in a very realistic way.
Janaya Black opened up to rolling out about her experiences as a writer, producer, director and filmmaker. Check out her interview below, and be sure to catch the film when it comes to your city.
Warrior Pride will debut at a red carpet premiere on Saturday, Aug. 18, 2018 starting at 6:30 p.m. at the Redford Theater, located in Detroit. For more information, please visit www.black-smithenterprises.com or call 734.686.2774.
As a Black woman, what do you consider your superpower to be?
I consider my superpower to be my ability to write stories that can evoke a myriad of feelings and emotions in the people that read them. I have never been very comfortable with public speaking, and am often very quiet, so writing has always been my most effective method of communication.
What key skill sets or qualities makes you unique as an African American female leader?
The key skill set that I would say makes me unique is my ability to bring people together to get things done. Being a director and producer often requires you to deal with a lot of different personalities on many different levels, and thus far in my career I have been able to run highly successful and productive crews by utilizing the concepts of empowerment, encouragement, team work and mutual respect.
What thoughtful or encouraging piece of advice would you give to your younger self?
The one piece of advice that I would give my younger self would be to not take everything so seriously. Due to the fact that I had to grow up fast, I often neglected to find in enjoyment in things that were common to my age group because I was so busy “adulting.” Now at 41, I look back and realize that some of the things I focused so much on weren’t as important as I thought they were at the time, and that sometimes it’s ok to let your guard down and live in the moment.
Why is it important for women of color to lead or work in leadership roles and decision-making capacities?
It is important for women of color to lead and work in leadership roles where they are forced to make decisions because it makes us stronger and helps us to realize and understand the impact we can have on the lives of others for better or worse. I believe that these principles should be practiced at a young age so that it can prepare young Black women for life in the real world.
If you could thank any Black woman history maker for her contributions to society, who would it be and why?
If I could thank any Black woman in history for her contribution to society, it would be Harriet Tubman. The amount of selflessness and bravery that she exhibited by risking her life to help others gain their freedom is something that has always made her a special historical icon to me. In my eyes she was a real life superhero.
Why is it important for mature, seasoned and experienced Black women to reach back and help younger women of color?
It is important for the mature, seasoned and experienced [women] to reach back to help the younger generation because if we don’t do that, then they won’t learn. Simple things like the art of face-to-face communication and proper etiquette have been severely hampered by the use of social media, so if we don’t teach them, then no one will. It is our responsibility to equip our young people with the tools they will need to be successful.
How do you feel about the hashtag #CollaborationOverCompetition?
I think that the hastag #CollaborationOverCompetition is a very positive affirmation. If it was truly embraced by our communities then there would be no limit to what we could achieve.
What are your thoughts on taking risks? Making mistakes?
Taking risks and making mistakes are pivotal to growth. If you never step outside of your comfort zone, you will never discover anything interesting about yourself and what you are capable of.
As a successful woman in business, what is your greatest achievement?
I would say that my greatest achievement is being able to see the words that formed in my mind and then transferred to paper, come life before my eyes on stage and the big screen. Seeing talented artists bring my thoughts and ideas to life in a tangible way, embraced by others, is one of the greatest feelings in the world. I am very much looking forward to seeing this happen again on August 18 when we celebrate the release of my latest film project, Warrior Pride with a red carpet premiere at the Redford Theater [in Detroit, MI]!
Who is your biggest inspiration? Why?
My family is my biggest inspiration because I want to leave them a legacy that will make them proud of me.
If you could have any person in the world become your mentor, who would it be and why?
I am very blessed to be able to say that I already have the perfect mentor. Karen Love, who was my first publisher, took me under her wing and has been my biggest advocate ever since. She gave me my first start in journalism, helped me sharpen my writing skills, showed me how to hold my own in a male dominated field, and loved me unconditionally every step of the way. Karen Love is definitely a rare breed, who has no qualms about reaching back to help younger women of color, and for that I am forever grateful.
Warrior Pride trailer