Filmmaker Damien D. Smith Highlights Black Hair and The Crown Act in His Quick Doc ‘Free to be Free’

Award-winning actor and filmmaker Damien D. Smith has determined to take an activist method along with his new brief documentary Free to be Free: That’s How God Created Us. The filmmaker, notably recognized for his work along with his brief movie, Daddy’s Large Lady, gained the 2018 Filmmaker of the 12 months at Gentleman Jack Reel to Actual Quick Movie Competitors. He is also the winner of the Arts with Influence Grand Prize Award for his brief About That.

Scrutinizing the plight of ladies’s points and the way they’re marginalized will not be new for Smith. His movie The V explores the undercurrent of sexual abuse in direction of ladies within the sports activities business. This has became his first function movie titled The V (Victory Excessive), which is at the moment in pre-production.

Damien spoke with BGN over the telephone to debate his newest mission below the manufacturing arm 4910 Rosalie Productions, the movie Free To Be Free. This movie focuses on HB382 — introduced by Rep. Candace N. Newell, which addresses discrimination in schooling, employment, public lodging, and housing alternatives. Whereas The Crown Act is making waves and partnering with giant firms like Dove to deliver extra visibility to the problem of hair discrimination, it nonetheless persists state-wide. Smith makes use of filmmaking as a instrument of consciousness and activism on this newest mission.

For our readers, please share what Free To Be Free is about.

Free to be Free is a documentary that chronicles the tales, trials, and tribulations ladies need to undergo due to their hair. It’s truly all human beings, however predominantly African-Individuals as a result of their hair doesn’t conform to Eurocentric views of magnificence or requirements of “professionalism.” We chronicle the tales advised by a majority of ladies of all completely different social statuses. It goes in parallel to making an attempt to get a invoice handed within the state of Louisiana. The hope is to place collectively a coverage that protects individuals primarily based on hair, like The Crown Act. 

There are numerous documentaries about Black ladies’s hair, however few contact on the work of The Crown Act and the influence it has on regulating Black hair within the office. Why was this explicit subject vital for you?

Hair has been a subject that has been shut on my radar for a very long time. As a result of hair is the very first thing you discover about bodily look, it has lots to do with satisfaction. Illustration issues. I noticed us doing a lot stuff that altered their hair as a result of they felt like they didn’t slot in.

Rising up, I noticed the consequences it had on the younger girls and younger ladies in my life. So, that’s one a part of why I’ve at all times wished to deal with it. My accomplice Nia Weeks was working along with her advocacy on getting the invoice handed. We wished to foyer for this invoice. In complete, we shot a docuseries that comprises three different movies. A few of the tales had been pulled from there.

Whereas this concern impacts Black ladies predominantly, you supply a male perspective by making a cameo and interviewing a male topic within the documentary. What was making this inventive alternative?

We’re unpacking points that predominantly have an effect on African-American ladies and girls generally. It does a disservice to a narrative if we solely have one perspective a few topic. I imagine {that a} male perspective and even how you could possibly help and supply allyship to those tales can be distinctive due to completely different experiences. I need to present a special perspective to assist the totality of the story and its influence.

Your movie has been chosen at many movie festivals. What has the suggestions been so removed from individuals watching this for the primary time?

It’s been very constructive. Viewers didn’t know the method of getting these payments handed. Form of like seeing how the sausage will get made. I attempted to do my greatest. This is the reason it’s important to focus in your native elected officers. They make insurance policies that have an effect on your life. These nationwide elections won’t trickle down, and also you won’t even slot in that margin. However these native politicians are those that management your destiny judiciously or by means of insurance policies that regulate and alter how you’re perceived in a office. 

What recommendation do you’ve for budding writers and filmmakers that stare at a blinking cursor or simply don’t know easy methods to get began in that first film?

My recommendation for people who find themselves simply getting began is that first, you’ve got to get began. All people is that blinking cursor. The one distinction between the individuals who bought it performed and didn’t get it performed is the mindset that you simply’re going to get it performed and begin. That’s it. Nothing goes to exchange the work. Nothing. The extra you apply, the extra you hone it, the extra invaluable it’s, and nothing goes to exchange it. And I’ve picked up that jewel by means of expertise and time. When you proceed to work, regardless of the highs and the lows are of your scenario, you at all times have that cache of labor that you may be recognized for. 

Damien D. Smith is actually making a cache of his work by means of filmmaking and activism with Free to be Free: That’s How God Created Us which can be screening on the Essence Competition. The screening takes place Sunday, July 3, 2022, at 4:30PM. 

You may catch Smith performing on-screen on Snowfall (FX networks) and The Purge TV on the USA community.


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