Sankofa Bird Drawing By Nya Patrinos
After spending three years earning my M.F.A. in acting at UCLA, I spent several years working as an actress, too often in film roles that did not accurately reflect my story. I often found myself refusing to take on roles that demeaned my ancestry and/or heritage, as well as ignored the humanity, dignity, resilience, and accomplishments of African Americans.
I cannot recall ever seeing an African American woman director growing up, and it did not occur to me until I left Los Angeles that I could write and produce my own films. When I came back to Philadelphia, I eventually found a profound and inspirational community of women who were writing and producing their own stories. In addition to learning from their shared developments and journeys, I began to study film and screenwriting taking as many classes as I could from Film programs/institutions.
During my tenure in law school, I studied Constitutional Law and developed a keen interest in the historical time period after the Emancipation Proclamation. I was particularly interested in the Black Codes of Reconstruction and the Jim Crow Laws that subsequently followed. These rules of governance, in their entirety, codified the perpetual inequitable and often inhumane treatment of certain factions of the U.S.’s citizenry. This citizenry included my ancestors; however, my law school professors were quick to ignore and dismiss this fact, my legacy, and my voice. I began to study my ancestors who were early pioneers of 19th century Anniston, Alabama and the many contributions they made. These contributions included operating educational institutions, owning businesses, acquiring real estate, serving as military officers, and carrying out various duties as civil servants. Against the backdrop of their stewardship, I carry the torch of being a fourth generation, college educated woman. This torch shines the light upon the fact that many stories of our self-reliance, entrepreneurship, activism, and advocacy are ignored, absent, misconstrued, misrepresented, and/or outright lied about. A significant part of my life mission is to collect and to re-tell these stories with dignity and authenticity.
- Lois Moses