Black History month is a time to celebrate the fearless Black leaders who came before us. It is a time to reminisce on how far we have come and a time to acknowledge the work that still needs to be done. The artist for this weeks “Artist Spotlight” is a good friend of mine, I was able to be a part of this amazing project and I am excited to share it with you all. Check out the video, and the Interview down below.
Name: Shelley Jackson
Project Title: The Time is Now
What is the inspiration behind the video? What really sparked my inspiration for this project was witnessing both in person and over social media the hatred, belittling, and overall disconnect that is happening in the black community. Black men putting down black women, black women competing against one another, the whole team light skin, team dark skin thing, I was and still am sick of it. In a country where black people already have to fight twice as hard as someone who isn’t colored, we should be helping and uplifting one another, not tearing each other down.
How do you fit into the story? Being a young African American woman puts me into the story automatically. Thankfully, I grew up learning how to love myself under the guidance of my mother, grandma, and sisters. However, I will say society doesn’t make it easy for a woman of color to completely love herself. One example that pertains to me personally is this whole idea of darker women not being as pretty or attractive as women with lighter skin. Growing up I always got the “Wow, you’re so pretty for a dark girl” comments or “Oh, you’re so pretty, what are you mixed with?” As if being black meant I was ugly and my beauty made it seem like I had to be mixed. And the thing about it is that there are many other girls that go through the same thing, if not worse. But the part that makes it so bad is despite the system built here in the U.S being against us in so many ways, we still find ways to help them, to add to the belittling and degrade one another. No I am not bashing the U.S but I am shining a light on a problem that should be talked about more.
How do you see your video effecting change? All in all, I am hoping my video will spark conversation, realization, and overall appreciation. Change doesn’t happen overnight. I am not expecting the video to somehow be a peacemaker. But I am expecting it to spark something, whether that be a comment, thought, action, whatever it may be. But this video isn’t just a black community thing, its an American thing. We are all Americans and we are all ultimately fighting to live a good life and make our mark someway. This video isn’t to exclude or target anyone but to shine light on a situation.
What inspires you to create? I am driven by passion. When I feel strongly about something it is really hard for me to just let it go. Artists have a voice and have the capability to really impact what is going on, or at least bring awareness to it. I am personally trying my best as an artist to feed off of the inspiration that comes my way. I think now a days, it is really easy for an artist to get discouraged because not everyone will like it, or they won’t get as many views or likes that they might hope for. I am trying to surpass my fears and follow my heart. I know the right people will see my work, and if it touches just one person I am happy, if it puts a smile on one person’s face I am ecstatic, if it moves one person enough to make a change or to simply be inspired, I am thrilled.
What’s next? This was my first project set out and made for the eyes of people who are not just family and friends. I am hoping to put my work out there more and more as ideas spark. The Video “The Time is Now” will be featured in Arizona State University’s Spring Dance Fest. I am super excited that the video will be shown on a big screen in front of many people who value art. Although the video was posted on YouTube, you can expect to see it on Facebook without the YouTube link being attached. I have noticed more people actually look at a video if it is directly on Facebook rather than YouTube so that is the next step.
Collaboration Highlight: This process was pretty quick but nonetheless very worth it. I was able to collaborate with friends from different walks of life who are all amazing people. My dancers Niamey and Alexus really helped add input and their own personal spice on the choreography which was really important to me. They both brought their individuality and grace. My speaker Akellz, definitely added a touch that I don’t think anyone else could have. His deliverance was amazing and his support and presence throughout the process was definitely appreciated. Lastly, my videographer Justin who is a very good friend of mine was able to capture the video in the most gorgeous way. All four of them listened to my vision (which I am sure was very difficult, because I am terrible at getting my words out) and made it come to life! I wouldn’t change anything about it.