Ava DuVernay’s Middle of Nowhere established a high demand for accurate, genuine media depictions of black men navigating complex relationships and circumstances. DuVernay ushered in a new era, and her film colleagues are capitalizing on the momentum. Stacey Muhammad, an award-winning filmmaker and music video director, is borrowing the torch with her first web series, For Colored Boys: Redemption.
Though this is Muhammad’s first foray into the web medium, it is not her first project capturing the lives of black men. The New Orleans native was instrumental in planning the Million Man March, and she turned her role on the national staff into the 2005 documentary “A Glimpse of Heaven, the Legacy of the Million Man March.” Her other work includes the HBO/Media that Matters selection “I AM SEAN BELL, black boys speak.”
Now she’s set her sights on bringing the complicated lives of black men to the mini-screen. For Colored Boys: Redemption was inspired by Ntozake Shange’s acclaimed choreopoems For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide when the Rainbow is Enuf. It will be a dramatic series of short stories “that follow the lives of seven African-American men from various walks of life as they navigate and overcome challenges, face their fears, find their truth, mend broken relationships, find love, build families and inspire the lives of many,” according to Muhammad’s website.
The first season of For Colored Boys stars Pariah’s Rob Morgan and The Wire’s Julito McCullum. It chronicles the life of Benjamin Boyd Sr., who’s returning to his broken family after serving nine years in prison.
The “Redemption” season of For Colored Boys is important to Muhammad because it captures a realistic situation for many people of color.
“People of color continue to be disproportionately incarcerated, policed, and sentenced,” she writes on the series’ IndieGogo funding page. “Racial disparities in the criminal-justice system threaten communities of color; disenfranchising countless men, women and children. These racial disparities have deprived people of color of their most basic human rights, making criminal-justice reform the civil-rights issue of our time.”
Muhammad aims to highlight those often overlooked when a relative is incarcerated.
“The spouses, friends, children and community of incarcerated individuals are the voices we don’t hear,” she writes. “Oftentimes when a parent is removed from a home as a result of incarceration, children or young adults must assume a level of responsibility they are often ill-equipped to handle. For Colored Boys: Redemption is a story that gives a voice to the voiceless by exploring the lives of everyone affected by incarceration.”
The first episode of For Colored Boys: Redemption was released through YouTube in January and has generated positive reviews for its depiction of a real-life family navigating a complicated system. However, Muhammad needs assistance to complete the rest of the first season.
She is using the crowd-funding site IndieGogo to raise funds. Web series are expensive to produce, edit and release, especially when they feature established actors. Muhammad hopes to raise $20,000 in one month, and then more, to continue funding this project.