WCW: Che Grayson: Storyteller

I said it a few times and I’ll say it again: I am so grateful to have found the Geek Girl Brunch Community. I have met so many amazing women through it and wonderful friends. 

 Che Grayson is one of the women I met along the way!

Che is a Brooklyn based filmmaker, writer and TED speaker from Long Island, New York. Che grew up with her mothers, little brother; spending most of her time watching black-and-white films and 80s horror flicks.  Her award-winning films have been shown internationally and her writing has been featured in Teen Vogue and Image Comics.

Photo credit: Chegrayson.com

Photo credit: Chegrayson.com

I had the opportunity to connect with Che and discuss her recent project Magic Hour! A new online horror/sci fi story that puts LGBTQ people and people of color as leads!  

For the pilot episode, titled “Soul-Search,” model, activist, and Pose actor Indya Moore stars as a modern Frankenstein looking for a soul and purpose in life.

Che recently debuted the trailer for episode one as the Kickstarter for episode 2 launched in July:  https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/chegrayson/magic-hours-pilot-episode-starring-indya-moore 

Written/Directed by Che Grayson Starring & Executive Produced by Indya Moore Kickstarter: http://kck.st/2Nr3dKZ

O.C.O: Why do you consider yourself a “nerd activist"? 

C.G: I thought of the term as a way to combine my greatest passions: fandoms and social justice. I feel like they're not mutually exclusive and a some of the greatest stories (i.e. X-men, Black Panther and Steven Universe) have an amazing way of highlighting the experiences of marginalized communities and those who have felt "bothered." All of these heroes and fictional character believe in justice so in a way a nerd or geek is also someone aligned with that same belief in justice and equality (at least the compassionate ones)  

O.C.O: Why is Dumbledore your favorite wizard based on your 2016 Ted Talk?

C.G: I think Dumbledore is one of the most thoughtfully complex characters in children's literature. He galvanized an entire generation of witches and wizards and ultimately led to the defeat of one of the most nefarious characters in history. And it's not just what he does that I love and respect so much, it's what he says. J.K. Rowling gave him some of the dopest lines in seven books. Constantly dropping knowledge and truth when Harry needed it most and I honestly needed it too as a reader. Honestly what's not to love about Dumbledore? 

O.C.O: What’s harder: Getting started or being able to keep going?

C.G: I love getting started on things. I have new ideas in my mind all the time, when I'm walking the dog or when I'm trying to sleep. But by far, the hardest thing to do is to keep going. Sometimes finishing something can seem nearly impossible and the only way to keep going is just to keep going. It sounds weird but it's true. As a storyteller I've realized that the only way for me to be able to call myself such is if I keep writing and directing and telling stories. But I have to keep telling myself, I can't really call myself a writer if all my stories are stuck in my head and not on the page and that's one of the things that keeps me going.

O.C.O: Was there a particular event or time that you recognized that filmmaking was not just a hobby, but that it would be your life and your living?

C.G: I started making films in college. So I never really saw it as a hobby it felt more like a calling the moment I finished my first script. It's why I went to film school because I felt it was so much more than just a passion or hobby of mine but it was a destiny I had to work toward. The hardest part has been making a living of it after film school. I'm still working on that part but I get closer every day and with every project that I finish. 

O.C.O: When inspiration is waning, when do you feel creatively sapped, what do you do, how do you overcome it?

C.G: When things get hard I always search for inspiration, whether it's making a playlist on Spotify, a mood board on Pinterest or just having a writing session with a friend to keep me going. I also just take my writing one-day at a time. I make myself write two pages a day even when it's 10 at night and everyone is sleeping. That's actually the best time for me to get writing done. And sometimes when I'm working on a film I just need to watch a good more or when I'm writing my novel I just need to pick up a good book to remind me that what I'm striving for is possible.

O.C.O: What’s your superpower or spirit animal?

C.G: For my super power I would want to be just like Jean Grey she is both the strongest and most compassionate of superheroes and I've always been fascinated by the true power of the mind. 

O.C.O: What advice would you give aspiring artists who want to use their platform as a way to resist and give back during these weird times?

C.G: I think is this digital age it's more important than ever to stand up for yourself and for others who are on the right side of history. Art can be a cathartic and empowering way to tackle real-life issues on a personal, national and even global scale. If you feel you have a story to tell, tell it. Make a kickstarter, start a blog, get the word out. There is an audience for you who is hungry for the stories you're bursting to tell. 

Support Magic Hour y’all: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/chegrayson/magic-hours-pilot-episode-starring-indya-moore the Kickstarter campaign ends in six days! 

Artwork by  Sashko Danylenko

Artwork by Sashko Danylenko

You can follow Che on Instagram and Twitter as well as Magic Hour TV on Instagram!

xo

Kos

 

WCW: JAMILA ROWSER-WRITER

You guys may have seen me post about Geek Girl Brunch, on my social media pages. I am so grateful to have found the Geek Girl Brunch Community. I have met so many amazing women through it and wonderful friends.

I had the opportunity last week to talk to co-founder Jamila Rowser.  Jamila is bomb! She has written for NYLON Magazine, MTV, Mass Appeal and Critical Chips 2 (which was nominated for the 2018 Angouleme Alternative Comics Award).  In addition to Wash Day and Geek Girl Brunch, she also founded Straight Outta Gotham, a project that highlights connections between hip-hop and geek culture.

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Back to her new project Wash Day!  Wash Day is a slice-of-life comic that pays tribute to the beauty and endurance of Black women and their hair. The 27-page story was written by Jamila Rowser and illustrated by Robyn Smith, with script edits by J.A. Micheline. It follows Kimana, a 26-year-old woman living in the Bronx, as she cares for her long, thick hair.

As Kim goes through her Sunday morning rituals, readers experience the highs and lows of her day—fresh coffee, rising rent, girl talk and catcalls.

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Jamila, inspired by her own wash day ritual and desire to read more comics by and for women of color, decided to follow the words of the great Toni Morrison, “If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it

Robyn decided to peruse comics so she could tell stories that highlight the personal and societal aspects of Black womanhood. It is those very facets that she saw in Wash Day and drew her to the project, “There’s something radical about a story of a Black woman taking time for herself and taking care of herself in ways extremely specific to Blackness.”

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Wash Day will be self-published with the help of a Kickstarter campaign. Which runs from April 3rd - May 4th.  Hyped to see Washday exceed its Kickstarter goal of $5k to $10k! #blackgirlmagic at its finest!

A physical copy of the comic book,  Wash Day

A physical copy of the comic book, Wash Day

Check out my q&a with Jamila below!

O.C.O: What brought you to comics?

J.R: I’ve always enjoyed anime, video games and sci-fi and fantasy, so comics was inevitable for me. I also had a late uncle named Barry who was a huge comic book fan and was a big inspiration to me as well. He took me to my first comic con when I was young.

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O.C.O:  What was the inspiration behind “Wash Day”? and Why was it important to you to highlight the day in the life of Kimana?

J.R: I love josei manga and I wanted to create a Black josei comic basically. A comic by and for Black women. There’s a quote Robyn Smith, the artist of Wash Day, said that I think describes up it beautifully, “There’s something radical about a story of a Black woman taking time for herself and taking care of herself in ways extremely specific to Blackness.” 

Preview pages, illustration by  Robyn Smith

Preview pages, illustration by Robyn Smith

O.C.O:  How did you and Robyn link up?

J.R:  I found Robyn on Twitter! Someone had retweeted her art and I was drawn to it. I look at more of her work and I loved her style and read her moving comic The Saddest Angriest Black Girl in Town and reached out to about working on Wash Day. She was excited to be a part of the project and loves drawing hair, which is great because there’s a lot of it in this comic. She’s been an absolute pleasure to work with.

With a pledge of $30 or more, readers will receive a  Wash Day  sticker sheet featuring art by Robyn Smith. 

With a pledge of $30 or more, readers will receive a Wash Day sticker sheet featuring art by Robyn Smith. 

Preview pages, illustration by  Robyn Smith

Preview pages, illustration by Robyn Smith

O.C.O:  Who has had the biggest influence on you outside the comics industry, and how did they affect your life?

J.R:  Other than my Uncle Barry, I would say my friends and music are my biggest influencers. Specifically, artists like Frank Ocean, Solange, SZA and Tyler the Creator, especially their recent projects. Missy Elliot, Erykah Badu and Outkast are also big inspirations to me as well. I think they are all highly creative people whose art is often clever and intellectual, but also deeply relatable and accessible to many.

Preview pages, illustration by  Robyn Smith

Preview pages, illustration by Robyn Smith

O.C.O:  What element of your work gives you the most personal satisfaction?

J.R:  That I get to work on something that I care about. It sounds simple, but it’s truly fulfilling to be able to devote time and energy into a project you’re passionate about.

O.C.O:  If a young girl is interested in creating comics, what’s the best advice you can offer her?

J.R:  Create what you want to exist in the world.

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O.C.O: What’s on your horizon? Any current/future projects and plans/dreams you can share with us?

J.R: I am working on a mini comic that I’m not ready to announce yet. I hope to release it late summer/early fall. I’m pretty excited about it! I can say that it is inspired by an iconic song.

O.C.O:  What advice would you give to aspiring artists wanting to use their art to address social issues? 

J.R:  Try to let go of the pressure to be the representative of your people. It’s often a burden I feel as one of the few Black women who works in a predominantly white space (I’m talking about my 9-5 job), but I actively try to let it go and remind myself that my experience is mines alone and I can’t and shouldn’t have to represent my race or sex. The same goes for stories, of course there are experiences we all share, but don’t get hung up on trying to include everyone’s experience.

Support Wash Day y'all: www.washdaycomic.com the kickstarter campaign runs through May 4th.

You can follow Jamila on Instagram and Twitter.

Xo

Kos

The Shape of Water: A modern yet magical tale

Guillermo del Toro (best known for Pan’s Labyrinth and Pacific Rim)  shines as a storyteller in the movie, The Shape of Water. The story, set in the 60s, during a time when the USA was in the mist of the Civil Rights Movement and the Cold War era, a mute cleaning lady, Elisa Esposito (Sally Hawkins) befriends and falls in love with an amphibian, played by, imprisoned in a government building where Elisa is employed. She is one of several women who clean the government facility. When she learns of the horrific experiments and treatment that her new friend is undergoing, and will undergo, she realizes that she must risk everything to help him escape.  

It’s definitely a sci-fi take on Beauty and the Beast and The Creature of the Black Lagoon. The movie also shows how Elisa struggles to make her voice heard as she considers herself somewhat of a “beast” as well. The creature at first is frightening; some may say grotesque. Then, as the bond between him and Elisa blossoms that initial reaction is forgotten (not to spoil the movie but trust me) you begin to soften up to the creature.

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Del Toro pushes the phrase “Love has no bounds” by showcasing how jarring and endearing the bond that develops between Elisa and Amphibious Man. The manner in which they communicate with each other was beautiful to watch.  Neither speaks, they just depend on their physicality to communicate many emotions: love, hope, fear, anger, loneliness and forgiveness.  They were able to push through impossible odds and making the effort to show they care. Their story shows we are more than capable of doing that as well, with all our technology and gadgets.  The bond that forms between Elisa and the creature is jarring and endearing. Their relationship may push bounds for some, but also may strengthen what you define as love.

Sally Hawkins’ performance, is charming and graceful. The joy she expresses is contagious! Doug Jones as Amphibious man is tender and believable.

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The Shape of Water is truly a wonderful movie it combined a lot of my favorites genres: sci-fi, period films, and fairy tales.  Del Toro fans will not be disappointed with his story, his visual styling, his attention to colors, set design, costumes, and of course his monster. The soundtrack is memorable with wonderful period tune choices.  

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I loved this movie! I think you get that?! Go see it!

Happy Holidays!

Kos