Tag Archives: web series

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.

Review: New webseries “Giving Me Life: In the Land of the Deadass” will give you proper “Living Single” feels (SPOILERS)

I love Living Single. I’ve watched every episode, and I know the characters inside out. Even though we might get a reboot soon, I’ve longed for another show to give me that same comfortable vibe of friends who have each other’s backs while calling each other out on their mistakes. If you’re like me, wishing and hoping for a show to follow Living Single‘s leave, give Dafina Roberts’ Giving Me Life a watch.

Giving Me Life, a Kickstarter Creator-in-Residence project and a 2017 New York Television Festival Official Selection, focuses on a core group of friends–Nala (Lori Liang), an artivist who has to reconcile her idealism with the stark realities of making money; Leah (Natalie Jacobs), a career-driven Type A investment banker whose studying for the GMATs and only dates up; Travis (Marshall star Mark St. Cyr), a highly spiritual, charismatic guy who thought he’d found the right spiritual partner; Cam (Sly Maldonado), a lovable party boy who is actually looking for the right woman to settle down with; Jess (Nathaly Lopez), a middle school counselor who uses her counseling skills to be the listening ear for all of her friends–even though she has problems making room for a girlfriend in her life; and Gil (Jarvis Tomdio), Nala’s crush, a people pleaser and “the epitome of geek-chic.”

These friends are trying their best to make it in New York and achieve their dreams while not losing their minds in the process. Thankfully, these guys have each other, and regardless of whatever problems they have, they all have each other’s back. The camaraderie is what makes the show so easy and enjoyable to watch. So far there are only four episodes, but once you finish, you’ll wish there were more.

Honestly, the show has left me wondering why this hasn’t been snapped up for TV pilot season. I think this show is good enough to rival series like InsecureDear White People and Master of None. It definitely gives viewers everything they’re asking for in these representation-focused times. We have tons of diversity, but more than that, we have inclusion; we’re told stories that reflect the lives of real people from the perspectives of people of color. The characters are never cookie-cutter; they are dynamic, fresh, well-rounded and behave like people we’ve come in contact with before (for some of us, we might be those characters). Their different socio-economic, ethnic, and sexual spaces these characters reside drive the storylines in an organic way, and there’s never an episode that feels like it’s a “very special episode.”

Natalie Jacobs as Leah. (Giving Me Life/Facebook)

What might be the most refreshing thing about Giving Me Life is that it gives its LGBT characters room to be imperfect people. I think one failing some shows on TV have when it comes to representing LGBT characters is that there’s a tendency to make the characters the poster children for the LGBT community. There’s a compulsion to try to make them perfect or edgy in some way. The characters in Giving Me Life, however, aren’t treated like stereotypes. Their needs and wants are just as fleshed out as their straight counterparts, and they are allowed to make mistakes.

For instance, Travis believes he’s found his soulmate with his boyfriend, but realizes that his boyfriend might want more than Travis can give him. After a bad experience with swinging (something the deeply religious Travis didn’t want to do in the first place), Travis breaks up with his boyfriend, but later wonders if he made a wrong choice. Leah, on the other hand, meets and falls in love with a man who also seems like the perfect match–they’re both climbing the ladder to financial success, they enjoy a certain level of luxury, they’re both bisexual, and they both feel the strain from stereotypes placed on bisexual people. But the catch is that Leah doesn’t even know her guy’s name. Not knowing his name makes her feel thotish, and one thing Leah won’t let herself be is a thot.

Travis (Mark St. Cyr, left), with his boyfriend Clarence (Mijon Zulu) before they break up. (Giving Me Life/Twitter)

Overall, Giving Me Lifwill, in fact, give you life. You’ll feel like you’ve found a new set of friends, and it’ll leave you with the hope that more episodes come very soon.

Follow Giving Me Life via its website as well as on social media–Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube, and Instagram.

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This new webseries celebrates queer black women in love

The web series is the new place for inclusive messages and nuanced stories about marginalized people that aren’t always shown in the mainstream. 195 Lewis is one such example of the web series making its mark with an underserved audience.

195 Lewis focuses on a cast of black LGBTQ women of color as they live and love in Brookyn’s Bed-Stuy neighborhood. The show’s creators, Rae Leone Allen and Yaani Supreme, have created the show from their own experiences–like their characters, they are also black women in the LGBTQ community who hail from Brooklyn. From their experiences, they were able to create a series that finally put love between queer black women–people who are rarely ever shown on TV–on the main internet stage.

Emily J. Smith interviewed Allen for Broadly. Here are three moments from her interview worth noting.

On the inviting feeling of 195 Lewis

“We’ve been able to create this warm and embracing world. We want people to join and feel safe there.

On white male privilege in the media industry:

“The only thing we need to take from white men is their audacity. Women are different kind of creatures, we’re constantly asking questions and interrogating ourselves, we know we’ll be responsible with our art. We just need to get audacious.”

On the groundbreaking nature of 195 Lewis :

“We’re showing beautiful black women on screen loving each other and being themselves. That’s revelatory in and of itself.”

Read the full article and watch the first episode of 195 Lewis at Broadly. Follow 195 Lewis through the show’s website and social media–Facebook, Vimeo, Instagram and Twitter.

New webseries alert: “Munkey in the City” starring “The Long Road Home” star Kenny Leu

Here’s a webseries that’s been simmering for a while–it’s finally ready for viewers to see, especially if you’ve been following the career of Kenny Leu, who’s starring in National Geographic’s upcoming miniseries The Long Road Home. The webseries? Munkey in the City. 

Munkey in the City, created and developed by Michael T. Nguyen, stars Leu as an aspiring writer who wants to make it big in New York City, while having tons of misadventures and growing pains along the way.

Check out the trailer:

A few years ago, I spoke with Nguyen about Munkey in the City. He told me the webseries is partially based on his own experiences as a writer in a big city.

Munkey in The City is actually based on my real life experiences living in San Francisco. I had moved here in 2010 hoping to start a new life for myself, but two years after, I was still confused about the direction I was headed in. I was busy working a job I was unhappy going to, and as a result, found myself delving deeper into alcohol as an escape. I had just dropped out of film school so I could focus on paying my overpriced rent, and I felt like I couldn’t do anything right or connect with anyone. My life was going nowhere and I realized I needed a change. Then, I decided to channel my energies into something more creative. I wrote my experiences down and decided I could use them to help me further my career as a filmmaker. Munkey in The City is really a story about my struggle with adulthood and the real world, while trying to achieve my dreams in a vast new place.

I happened to name the main character Munkey, because “Monkey” is actually a nickname I’ve acquired over the years for various reasons. And I added the fact that San Franciscans simply call San Francisco “THE City.” Thus, Munkey in The City was born. Now I’m determined to bring this story to life, not just for me, but also to share it with anyone striving for their own dreams as well.

Nguyen also laid into Hollywood’s reticence to casting Asian actors for big parts, particularly leading male roles.

Compelling movie and television characters just aren’t written for Asian American males. That, combined with the industry’s unwillingness to take chances on them, for fear that audiences won’t fork over time and money to see them, equals very few opportunities outside the martial arts genre. The industry happens to run on a very basic premise: if you can bring in money, you can be on screen. But even with John Cho’s huge success with the Harold and Kumar franchise, the industry still hesitates to put him into leading roles. So there has to be something else at work here. And I can call it bias and racism all I want, but the industry will just call it a poor business decision.

The fact is that it’s going to take a lot more work by a lot of people to fight for that opportunity from Hollywood, and to sway audiences into accepting an Asian American as a dynamic leading man. But the foundation is being laid, for sure.

Munkey in the City debuts on YouTube, Vimeo, and its official website October 18.

Asian Entertainment Television debuts new app

Asian Entertainment Television

Asian Entertainment Television is an outlet featured on JUST ADD COLOR before (you can read more about the service here). Now, the premier global Asian American streaming platform, has announced its first mobile app.

The AET Branded App was added to the Apple App Store April 15, giving Asian American content a distribution channel in the OTT space on the iOS platform.

“We not only want to give our users a great experience by providing uniquely curated representAsian content that gives Asian American genuine representation, but we also aim to give Asian content–which, until now, is largely homeless–a home,” said Sinakhone Keodara, CEO of AET. “AET aims to make a dent in helping end the whitewashing and yellowfacing practices of Asian roles in Hollywood movies and TV shows. We’re essentially putting Hollywood on notice that we’re here to change the game.”

Apart from the app, here’s another thing you need to know: Asian Entertainment Television has added a talent directory to its main site. The InvAsian Talent Directory will act as a database for Hollywood can find actors, directors, cinematographers, production designers, writers, and other creatives from the Asian Diaspora. To learn more about the InvAsian Talen Director, click here.