Still from Karen, starring Laura Hueston
You’ve seen the numerous videos of entitled white women accosting Black people. The videos have become a genre by themselves, with viewers giving these white women a name–“Karen.” Well, the ubiquitous Karen is now getting a taste of her own medicine in Noah Mortel’s upcoming film project.
Mortel, a Haitian-American writer/director based in Houston, TX, has started a Seed & Spark campaign for his web series, Karen. Mortel, who has worked on shows and films like Unsung and Rush Hour 3, said his goal with his career to “have more positive representation of Black people on screen,” and Karen gives him the opportunity to highlight Black issues to new audiences.
According to the project’s Seed & Spark page, Karen will feature a young Black man and an older, racially ignorant woman swapping bodies in a magical moment that forces them to learn more about each other’s life experiences.
KAREN, an episodic series, is about an ignorant older white woman named Karen and a selfish young black man named Bobby that have a viral encounter and somehow switch bodies. Unable to switch back, they incur the challenges of life from the other’s perspective and learn and grow from it. They get a reality check upon realizing that they must switch back in time before it’s too late and one of them dies.
“Karen is to bolster unity among people of different races and encourage positive representation of Black people on screen,” states the series’ mission statement. “By way of the body switch, this project teaches us to love your neighbor as yourself.”
“Confrontations with real Karens are serious and we will not take that lightly,” according to the film’s Seed & Spark page. “After each episode, the goal is for people to have a time of reflection to evaluate themselves and their stereotypes and see how they can become a better person. We have our biases and are not all perfect, but we all have room for improvement.”
In his director’s statement, Mortel wrote how he wants to participate in making the world a better place through his art.
“I can’t sit idly as I see the moral decay of the world. We have to do our part. Now is the time,” he wrote. “This project is a catalyst for more stories from people of all backgrounds that need to be told. This is just the beginning.”
He also wrote how he wants to give Texas creatives a spot to showcase their skills.
“My dream and prayer is for this project to be the project that catapults each respective career of everyone involved,” he wrote. “Even if Karen causes just one person to think about how they can become a better person it will be a success in my heart.”
Unfortunately, the Seed & Spark campaign for Karen fell through, but Mortel is still working on making Karen a reality.
While acknowledging the campaign’s end as “disappointing,” Mortel told me he learned a lot from the experience and continues to pursue other ways of bringing Karen to production, such as applying for a local grant in Houston. He also wants producers or production companies interested in new web projects to watch the YouTube pitch, embedded below.
If you like the idea behind Karen and want to see it come to fruition, share it with your circles, especially if you happen to be friends with someone who loves producing new stories. Let’s do what we can to help Mortel get his project made!