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Fund This Project: ‘Karen’ Web Series Ready To Tackle Racial Ignorance With A Body-Switch Twist

Still from Karen, starring Laura Hueston

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.

Ty Price, one of the stars of Karen
Ty Price, one of the stars of Karen.

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.”

Noah Mortel, creator of Karen.
Noah Mortel, creator of Karen.

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!

Keep track of other projects highlighted on Just Add Color by checking out some of these past articles.

‘Shang-Chi’ Star Simu Liu Revisits His Most Iconic Tweets With Twitter Movies’ ‘Behind The Tweets’

Simu Liu as Shang-Chi

Simu Liu is Marvel’s newest superhero in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. And, as most of his fans know, Liu’s journey from Kim’s Convenience to Marvel stardom started with a single tweet: “OK @Marvel, are we gonna talk or what #ShangChi.”

Twitter Movies caught up with Liu and asked him about some of his most noteworthy tweets. Liu also talked about what it was like interacting with his fellow Marvel stars Angelina Jolie and Benedict Cumberbatch, writing his own Wikipedia page in 2015, what he loves the most about McDonald’s BTS meal, his irritation at people mispronouncing his name, and more.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is in theaters now; the film will come to Disney+ this October.

Watch Oprah Winfrey’s amazing Golden Globes speech again!

Oprah Winfrey stole the Golden Globes show, didn’t she? During a night where genuine anger and defiance mixed with performative “wokeness,” Oprah reminded us all why she’s the most respected and revered name in Hollywood.

I’m planning on having my full thoughts on Oprah’s speech and the night as a whole later today. But for now, enjoy Oprah’s amazing speech once again via NBC’s YouTube page and start your day off on the right foot.

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Exclusive Interview: “Charcoal” writer/director Francesca Andre talks colorism

Francesca Andre has a message for everyone with her short film, Charcoal. The main theme of her film is about colorism and its damaging effects on the black diaspora. Her two main characters go through a journey of self-acceptance and self-awareness, and that journey is something Andre hopes is replicated in her viewers.

I’ve had the chance to speak with Andre recently about her film (which you can learn more about in a previous article and the trailer below) as well as her opinions on how colorism affects us. I also asked about the Dove ad that sparked controversy, and how we can heal as a people from our societal wounds. Andre offers clear insight into her own journey towards healing and how we can continue the process of healing in our own lives. Here are highlights from that conversation.

Charcoal can be seen at the Yonkers Film Festival Nov. 3-8.

The inspiration for Charcoal:

Colorism is something that has impacted my life at a very young age. It’s very common in Haiti—it’s not white people versus black people, it’s really lighter skin versus darker skin. At a very young age, I was made aware of that. When I was probably five years old, I received a dark-skinned doll. When I took it home, people started making fun of the doll, saying the doll is ugly. My mother being brown-skinned, my grandmother being lighter-skinned, and my grandfather and my father being darker skinned men, people just made comparisons to the skintones.

Colorism and the lasting effects of racism in the black diaspora:

We’re still dealing with the consequences [of racism] as a people when it comes to economic empowerment, how we are being perceived and anything else—colorism sits right in there. It’s still affecting us, we’re still dealing with it, it’s not a thing of the past. We’re still healing from it. Those of us who are aware and are making a conscious decision to talk about it. You can’t really talk about racism or the advancement of us as a people and not talk about colorism.

Here in America, [the Dove colorism ad] was a mainstream brand that everyone can see, but you have some smaller brands, when you go to Caribbean markets that are selling [similar] products. You have women making skin-bleaching lotion and selling it to other women. I guess for some people here, it’s not as blatant as it is in other cultures—if you go to CVS, you probably won’t be able to find it, right? But it’s happening. It never went away, at least from my experience; as long as I’ve been alive, I’ve always known about these products.

Even thinking about “good” hair,the hair is not closer to our hair texture. It’s something closer to European hair texture. But when you look at our hair and the versatility of our hair, to me it’s like, really good hair! It took me a long time to reprogram myself, my thoughts, and redefine what “good” hair was for me to access [my hair] and accept it, love it, and embrace it…I don’t have any problems with it now.

Francesca Andre

On how to heal from colorism:

I do feel like we need to start having conversations, and an important part of that is the healing part of that. I think you will see that you’ll find more women going natural more than ever. Here’s what’s fascinating: how so many black women did not know their hair period because they just haven’t been dealing with their hair…they did not know how to take care of their hair; it’s been processed. When they find out what products work on our hair and what they can do to make their hair do this and that. Again, it’s knowledge and healing and more women are stepping out. It’s not a strange thing now to see a black woman with natural hair in the workplace. There was a time when this wasn’t a thing. Now, more people are going natural, embracing it and being unapologetic about it. I feel like we’re going forward. Even with skintones, too—[online campaigns and phrases like] “My melanin’s poppin’,” #BlackGirlMagic—we are healing collectively. I hope the men are using those terms as well; I hope the men are healing because they are also victims of colorism. I hope that we as a people stop the vicious cycle.

…First of all, I think [the first step to healing is] knowing what colorism is. Many people don’t even know what colorism means. It really starts the conversation. It’s hard to change beliefs, but one way we can do that as a people is to talk—ask [about it] and dialogue. Increase representation [in the media] to make women more confident in who they are and how they look. As an artist and storyteller, the way I [change] people is including it and showing it, talking about it and not pushing it away…Whenever I see a girl with natural hair, I tell them “I love your hair” or “I love your twists”; I make it my job to remind them because all the messages they are receiving are the opposite.

How Charcoal can start viewers’ journeys toward self-acceptance:

I think there’s a universal aspect to it. I hope people feel inspired and hopeful. I hope people find some sort of healing or be the beginning of that journey. We all can relate to pain, and the characters go through that, but we can see how they overcome that.♦

This interview has been edited and condensed. 

6 times YouTuber Thou Art Anuli Won Halloween cosplay with Black Girl Magic

Halloween is here, but you might as well go home, since YouTube creator Anuli of Thou Art Anuli has already won it.

This creative DIY-er has sprinkled #BlackGirlMagic all over your favorite cartoon characters and has presented her audience with amazing cosplay costumes. If you want to get your Halloween started right, check out some of her outstanding costumes below.

1. Doug, Skeeter, Patti Mayonnaise, and Roger from Doug

What’s great about these costumes is how instantly recognizable they are. There’s no mistaking any of these costumes as being anything other than Doug, Skeeter, and co. But they’re also glammed-up versions of these characters as well, making them even more larger than life. They’re also pretty easy to make, which is great if you don’t have a big budget. All you need is a little imagination and some DIY ingenuity.

2. Sailor Moon

Anuli’s version of Sailor Moon picks up on the purple hair trend that’s been seen so often in black Sailor Moon recreations, such as AisleyBarbie’s fanart. But what Anuli does to make her version different is pick up on the “dumplings” in Usagi’s original hairstyle and repeat them throughout each ponytail. Also, Anuli used ombre hair, which makes this Usagi’s hair even more magical and fantastical.

3. The crying nun from American Horror Story

What’s great about this costume is that it’s surprisingly easy to pull off and highly effective. The nun’s habit is actually a T-shirt! Probably the most expensive thing are the scelera lenses. This look proves you can be absolutely horrifying on a budget.

4. The Powerpuff Girls

In this rendition of the Powerpuff Girls, Anuli rebranded them as “The Afropuff Girls,” giving blackness and black beauty a front-row seat. Again, the costumes and hair are all instantly recognizable as “Powerpuff,” but the new take gives it modernity and edgy style.

5. The Gross Sisters from The Proud Family

This might be the most glam version of the Gross Sisters I’ve ever seen. Anuli’s versions of these characters are also classic ’90s, complete with baby hair, bandanas, and gold hoops. Of course, the characters dress like this in the show, but the way Anuli has given them a grown-up edge, it looks like they’re ready for their close-up in Dead Presidents or Set It Off.

6. Goku (or Gohan) from Dragonball Z

Yes, you can make a Saiyan femme, and Anuli has given girls and femme-presenting anime lovers a cool way to rep your Saiyan pride while also keeping it cute and stylish. Instead of wearing pants, she’s wearing a tank top dress, which brings this look to a much more modern and fresh place.

There are plenty more cosplay and DIY videos at Anuli’s YouTube page (including an amazing Lil Kim look)! You can also follow her on her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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COLORful Trailer: “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle”

COLORful Trailer posts are merely to showcase the trailer without judgement–that’s up to you, the viewer!

Movie: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

Movie Studio: Sony Pictures

Genre(s): Action/adventure, Comedy

Release date: Christmas Day

Director: Jake Kasdan

Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Nick Jonas, Bobby Cannavale

Official synopsis: In the brand new adventure Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, the tables are turned as four teenagers in detention are sucked into the world of Jumanji.  When they discover an old video game console with a game they’ve never heard of, they are immediately thrust into the game’s jungle setting, into the bodies of their avatars, played by Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, and Karen Gillan.  What they discover is that you don’t just play Jumanji –Jumanji plays you.  They’ll have to go on the most dangerous adventure of their lives, or they’ll be stuck in the game forever…

What do you think of this movie? Sound off in the poll!

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