FAQ for Director


1. What is the driving force behind your work and specifically the decision to create this project?

The driving force behind my work is the idea that young people can make a huge difference in this world, and that we all have a different role to play in bettering this world. We should all ask ourselves two questions, What breaks our heart? and What makes us come alive? Where the answer to those two questions intersect is where you find your purpose. As Aristotle said, “Where your talents and the needs of the world cross; therein lies your vocation.”

The driving force for this project was that the Ferguson uprising was something I didn’t fully understand, but was inspiring to me as someone who is passionate about the fact that young people can make a difference. Here was a group of young people doing it right here in my city, and I wanted to understand their viewpoints better and the issues at hand. In the process, I stumbled into learning so much about college access for low income students, minorities and undocumented students that I was also so unaware about. I quickly learned how access to education and the issues brought up by the Ferguson uprising were so closely intertwined.


2. Is there a particular side of the Ferguson uprising that you felt was untold? What was it?

I strongly felt the history leading up to the Ferguson uprising all the way back to the Missouri Compromise, restrictive covenants and Pruitt-Igoe was important to put this situation in context.

Also, I felt that many people hadn’t seen first hand the more creative and elaborate of these protests, some of which are featured in this film like Black Brunch and the airport shutdown. These were elaborate events where diverse viewpoints were forced to collide which I think will create dynamic conversations for the audience.


3. What is your relationship to the Scholarship Foundation? How did you come to see the impact of their work?

I actually was a scholarship recipient and in fact just paid off my loan which took me about 12-13 years to pay off. The foundation had screened my previous film, What Matters?, and I had stayed in communication with them loosely since then. In a meeting about an unrelated project, Faith, the executive director, mentioned the Advocacy Internship program and I had never heard of anything like it.


4.  Working with local activists in Ferguson on the film, did you find any stand out takeaways that you walked away with?

From my experience, though Ferguson was started by the killing of Mike Brown and frustration towards police and community relations, the conversations I heard on the ground covered such a wider range of topics. Conversations during these protests were so fascinating. They revolved around housing, education, court systems,the school to prison pipeline, racism, privilege and so much more. To me, it started so many necessary conversations in our community about race and equity that I hope lead to meaningful changes that give all people in cities like St. Louis an equal opportunity to succeed. You can see this represented in the subsequent Ferguson Commision report (http://forwardthroughferguson.org).

One other big takeaway is that I consistently found myself thinking of the old adage, “People don’t care what you know until they know that you care.”  I think that idea alone could go a long way in this whole dialogue about race in our country.


5. Some activists have pushed for a new form of government to replace democracy. Based on your experience and work, what would you say to these activists?

I don’t really feel qualified to speak on that, and I don’t feel that I was apart of those conversations too much. I can tell you that the chant “Show me what democracy looks like, this is what democracy looks like” was one of the most common cries I heard. From my experience, much of the movement felt they were “waking up” the democracy and letting them know they are here and won’t be silenced.


6. There's often large discourse on Twitter regarding art created centering activism, do you feel any anticipation about how the project will be received?

I am curious how folks will receive the film.  Show Me Democracy only highlights a small group of the many people involved in these causes, so I hope people just see it as a true account of this small group of individuals’ experiences and actions. Of course, I hope it ignites change and do believe it covers a wide range of complicated issues, but is not by any means trying to represent the movement as a whole.  I believe I told the truth with the story I decided to tell, and that is about all I can do. Also, I know I have the support of those featured in the film with the message because it was a very collaborative process, so I think that gives me a lot of peace.