Do not wait; the time will never be 'just right.' Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along.
Peace and Prosperity,
I’m Toneka Wright, a mother of 3 boys, writer and independent filmmaker. Today I start a new trail to my dream of expanding the audience of filmmakers of African descent from all over the world. I’ve always loved reading. I started writing in middle school, romance if you can believe it. The geeky school girl dating the handsome jock that would hold her books and hand while walking down the hall for everyone to see. In high school I talked myself out of believing I could ever make a living doing what I actually loved and decided to pursue a degree in Computer Science. Hated it, failed miserably at it. Fast forward x amount of years, I am working in the tech field, I like my job, but got the itch to write a novel, just for fun. I took some writing classes at my local community college and the instructor suggested I take screenwriting classes. I did and have been writing ever since. I’ve worked on other short movies and music videos and am currently working on a re-write of a feature film and television pilot. I’ve written and directed a few short movies of my own, and have been honored to make it into a good number of film festivals. At each festival I saw more great films, and met a lot of awesome filmmakers. The majority of the filmmakers hadn’t made it into the larger black film festivals like me, but it’s what we aimed for. So few films make it into festivals and once the weekend is over an even smaller amount reach a considerable number of viewers. I wanted to do something about that but wasn’t sure what that “something” was. And then it hit me. We needed an outlet to showcase our work, all of it. All genres, those movies written or directed by names we knew as well as us no names, pieces that star popular actors and those that present up and coming artists. That is where the idea for Reel-365 was born, a digital subscription video on demand website showcasing movies from writers and directors of African descent. Why only writers and directors of African descent? Because it’s who I am, and I feel our images in film are limited to say the least. There’s so much more to our stories than those of maids, slaves, or thugs and I want to be an active participant in changing those views and who better to do that than us? Complaining about or expecting Hollywood to change, I’m beyond over it. Ava DuVernay being passed up for the best director category in the Academy Awards is a prime example of why Reel-365 is needed. When you stop and think about it, how many movies in theaters last year were written or directed by African Americans? By any person of color? Black, brown, yellow, hell I’d take a green Martian right about now. Why are we waiting? We don’t have to; I’m not going to any longer.
And so here I am a big ball of mixed energy right now. Excitement, Empowered, Hopeful, Nervous, and Afraid. As I’m typing this, I am feeling a million different emotions. But that’s just confirmation that I’m doing what I was meant to do. It’s not easy reaching out to people with an open heart, bearing your feelings, and wondering how they will be accepted. I’m not a known filmmaker; I don’t have any famous attachments, and no wealthy investors. It’s just me, one person trying to make a difference by expanding the world’s view of what we write and how we’re portrayed. Join me; I’m sure it’s going to be an interesting ride.
If you’ve read this entire post, I thank you, I’m so grateful, and if you have a few more spare minutes join the Reel-365 family, there will be updates on the film world, Hollywood and independent, information on the formal site launch, and giveaways. Again, thank you so very much.