Che Grayson, if you haven’t heard her name, You will.
I first met Che at a Geek Girl Brunch event years ago. I was struck by knowledge of filmmaking and I found we had a lot in common. We both had created our own comic book. She, like me, has a love for superheroes, which inspired her to create and self-publish her own comic book series, Rigamo, about a young Black girl who discovers that her tears bring people back to life. Che is fascinated with the power that fictional characters, super heroes even, wield and how they inspire us.
I was excited that Che gave me the opportunity to speak with her as she juggled her crazy schedule. When we spoke she was preparing for her thesis. Busy Lady!
Here is the interview!
O.C.O: Was there a particular event or time that you recognized that film making 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: 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 "othered." 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?
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: 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: Tell us about your comic: Rigamo
C.G: Rigamo was my first comic, about a young girl who realizes that she has the power to bring people back to life but discovers that gift comes with a terrible price. Since then I've written for a couple anthology series and am making moves to some create-owned comic ideas I have off the ground. The most important project right now is called Magic Hour, it's an anthology television series that similar to the Twilight Zone but Black and queer. Wish me luck!
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.
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.