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Published on April 28th, 2020 | by Jerry Doby

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Nakia Stephens CEO and Founder of Damn Write Originals Talks Partnership with Aspire TV and Preferring Short Form Over Feature Length Projects

The Hype Magazine speaks with Nakia Stephens, the CEO and Founder of Damn Write Originals, a millennial screenwriting collective nurturing young talent, with a commitment to showcasing fresh faces and new voices, by producing its own short films and to provide a platform for content creators of color. Our conversation covers what brought Nakia to the entertainment industry, how she became a screenwriter, and why she prefers short form as opposed to feature-length projects. We also get to discuss how she and her company Damn Write Originals came to partner with Aspire TV!

Here’s the official line on the partnership between Aspire TV and Damn Write Originals:

In an effort to provide unique and original short urban films to its consumers, Aspire TV, in partnership with Damn Write Originals, is excited to announce its 2020 Urban Indie Film Block lineup, previously known as ABFF Independent. Each week, Aspire TV’s newest programming block will feature the best of urban short films by tomorrow’s next great filmmakers and feature films that depict several themes including love stories, romantic comedies, dramas, action and sci-fi.

The Urban Indie Film Block will debut on Aspire TV every Tuesday, beginning April 7th at 8 p.m. ET through July 28th. Notable actresses featured in the films are Garcelle Beauvais (Lalos House), Rutina Wesley (Last Looks), Sherri Shepherd (High Hoops), DeEtta West (Dreaming of a Black Christmas) andSimone Missick (The Big Chop).

Aspire TV has partnered with Nakia Stephens, the CEO and Founder of Damn Write Originals, a millennial screenwriting collective nurturing young talent, to amplify its commitment to fresh faces and new voices, by producing its own short films and to provide a platform for content creators of color.

“Black Indie Film is more important today than ever. Black independent film has always and continues to portray non-flinching truths in life, triumphs that exceed the greatest expectations and stories as diverse as every hue of our complexions. Since Aspire’s launch, independent film has been a foundational pillar of the Aspire brand. This is why Aspire is thrilled to bring a third season of Urban Indie Film Block featuring great filmmakers who have a story to tell,” says Tina Rodriguez, Senior Director, Programming & Acquisitions at Aspire TV.

A complete list of the 2020 Urban Indie Film Block and its schedule is listed below: 

Theme: Strength Through the Storm
Air Date
: April 7, 2020

Film: Forced Entry
Director: Nakia Stephens
Synopsis:
A sexual assault survivor, leans on her best friend for support after being betrayed by the justice system.

 

Film: More Than A Victim
Director: Stephanie Ike
Synopsis:
Documentary about rape/sexual assault.

Film: We Will Live

Director: Pascal Pernix

Synopsis: In the hope of starting a better life in a southern country, Elia and Ayon took a small plane that crashed during a violent tropical storm. Elia must now bury Ayon and survive alone in the unknown jungle she’s stranded in.

Film: Beads

Director: Rachel Byrd

Synopsis: The film follows Dalia, a young African American girl who moves to a new town with her family. Her favorite show is an animated show called, “Wonder Lady,” which features a black, braided and beautiful superhero.

 

Theme: One Sided Love
Air Date
: April 14, 2020

 

Film: Lokoza
Directors: Zee Ntuli, Isabelle Mayor
Synopsis:
In the Durban South Basin, Themba, a boy in his early adolescence, lives with his father near the local oil refinery. He’s secretly in love with Khanya, who has been his best friend for years.

 

Film: Exotique
Director: Soraya Milla
Synopsis:
Philomène, a teenager of African origin, loves Bastien, a guy in her class. But with her frizzy hair, she doesn’t feel she has the weapons of seduction to challenge those girls with vaporous hair.

 

Film: Ur Mines
Director: Jeff Lucky
Synopsis:
On a single day in London, a jaded saxophone player and a frustrated photographer make a seemingly random connection, as they bond over their common artistic and personal struggles.

 

Theme: My Brother, My Friend
Air Date
: April 21, 2020

 

Film: Snowplow
Director: Mia Niebruegge
Synopsis:
After the sudden death of their mother, a young man struggles to take care of his sister as they try to avoid separation by social services.

 

Film: On the Clock
Director: Tayo Adams
Synopsis:
When Sofia gets her first period, Lucas sets out to secure the feminine products she needs, confronting many harsh realities along the way.

 

Theme: Family Over Everything
Air Date:
April 28, 2020

 

Film: It’s Who You Know
Director: Ricky Rosario
Synopsis:
This story follows a young dancer named Clayton who’s facing the challenges of chasing his dreams. In the midst of his daily grind he maintains a caring relationship with a crazy elderly homeless woman, who later serves a larger purpose on his journey than expected.

 

Film: Cross My Heart
Director: Sontenish Myers
Synopsis
: An American teenage girl visits her family in Jamaica and uncovers a secret that changes the way she sees the people she loves.

Film: Curiosities of the Quiet Boy
Director: Quran Squire
Synopsis:
A partially deaf 12-year-old undergoes a series of supernatural phenomena in the midst of mourning his mother.

 

Theme: Boss Moves
Air Date:
May 5, 2020

 

Film: The Big Chop
Director: Derek Dow
Synopsis:
The Big Chop follows 10-year-old Kris on her natural hair journey of self-love and acceptance.

 

Film: Juicy Ladies
Director: Perdell Richardson
Synopsis:
After being given a grim diagnosis from her doctor, Angie, the world’s biggest foodie, embarks on a quest to find love and health.

 

 Theme: Lost Treasure
Air Date:
May 12, 2020

 

Film: We Have Our Ways
Director: Dawn Jones Redstone
Synopsis
: In a dystopic future, a healthcare call center worker must help her cousin obtain an illegal medical procedure and decide how much she’s willing to take matters into her own hands to do what’s right.

 

Film: High Hoops
Director: Tanner Jarman
Synopsis:
After recovering from a knee injury, a high school basketball prospect fights to get her starting spot back.

 

Film: Last Looks
Director: Cierra Glaude
Synopsis:
An Aesthetician does her brother’s makeup for his final showcase.

 

Film: Drama
Director: Timeca Seretti
Synopsis
: When running is no longer an option, Drama is forced to face the school bully or her alcoholic tough as nails aunt.

 

 Theme: The Power of Family
Air Date: May 19, 2020

 

Film: Rapunzel Jackson
Director: Dabling Harwaerd
Synopsis:
“Rapunzel Jackson” is an urban take on the fairy tale “Rapunzel.” It’s the story of a young black girl who’s being pulled by her roots into womanhood by a perm.
Film: I Will Not Forget You
Director: Laila Petrone
Synopsis:
Still struggling with loss, a caring father and his kind-hearted daughter are inspired by the Christmas spirit to help the people of Puerto Rico get back on their feet.

 

Film: Heart Eyes
Director: Michea Bryant
Synopsis:
A high school student with Down syndrome pursues her crush in hopes of securing a date for the Valentine’s Day Dance.

 

 Theme: For Love and Life
Air Date: May 26, 2020

 

Film: The First Stone
Director: Kaisen Rei
Synopsis
Reigh returns home to find her family is torn apart at the seams, and it’s up to her to put it back together.

 

Film: Showtime
Director: Shawn Antoine II
Synopsis
: Darius and Hakeem dance on New York City trains to earn honest money and escape the crime-riddled streets of Harlem.

 

Film: Grace
Director: Eboni Adams
Synopsis:
Grace’s younger sister Angela has made it clear that she has a family of her own and can no longer care for their father. On this particular day, we go on a journey with Grace as she struggles between taking care of her father who suffers from early signs of dementia or missing out on a job opportunity that could rekindle her love, teaching.

 

 Theme: The Real MVP
Air Date: June 2, 2020

Film: Cowgirl Up
Director: Nathan Willis
Synopsis:
A cowgirl strives to be the first African American woman in the National Finals Rodeo.

 

Film: The Closet
Director: Timeca Seretti
Synopsis:
Haile Stephens has it all, the husband, the car and all that money can buy. Or does she?

 

Film: Good Girl
Director: Sade. C. Joseph
Synopsis:
A dramedy that follows a first-generation Caribbean-American teen trying to navigate life between her dysfunctional immigrant family and her catholic, all-girls school.

 

Film: He Loves Me, He Loves Me Hot
Director: Cassandra Black
Synopsis:
So, just how important is wardrobe in a relationship?

 

Film: Shoot the Girl
Director: Natalie Thompson
Synopsis:
10-year-old Trench Town girl Likkle, must stop Satan, her father’s murderer from killing her – using her “brain to beat brawn.”

 

Theme:  This Could Be Your Future
Air Date: June 9, 2020

 

Film: La Oposicion
Director: Zoey Martinson
Synopsis:
La Oposicion explores immigration policy under the new Trump administration.

 

Film: SO.C13.TY
Director: Khris Burton
Synopsis
: John an emotionless and regulated citizen of THE CITY awakes on a deserted island where he has to embrace his own humanity to survive.

 

Theme: Hard Choices
Air Date: June 16, 2020

 

Film: Where the Water Runs
Director: Dubois N. Ashong
Synopsis:
This is the story of Nasir (28), a disingenuous water distribution operative and truck driver working for the Los Angeles department of water and power during the worst drought in L.A. history.

 

Film: Retrospect
Director: Royce Adkins
Synopsis:
A Sci-Fi psychological drama about a young man who is addicted to a machine that allows him to artificially relive memories of his deceased fiancé.
Theme: A Day in The Life of a Black Man
Air Date: June 23, 2020

 

Film: Vagabonds
Director: Amartei Armar
Synopsis:
A Ghanaian orphan’s life is turned upside down when he finds out his younger brother has been selected for adoption by an American family.

 

Film: I Hate Being Black
Director: Kevin Craig West
Synopsis:
Two ‘buppies’ – black, upwardly mobile professionals – debate the societal repercussions of being black.

 

Film: Run
Director: Brandon Broussard
Synopsis:
The story of Run is based on a true story my best friend told me when I was 18. He called from his parents closet and said that he was not at school in Georgia because he was on the run. There was a local drug dealer killing students on campus he thought were dealing.
Theme: Protect Your Hopes and Dreams
Air Date: June 30, 2020

 

Film: Endangered
Director: Nakia Stephens
Synopsis:
“Endangered” features an expecting couple; Chanel & Malik, on their way to their “Gender Reveal” party.

 

Film: Invincible Boy
Director: Julian Park
Synopsis:
A wildly imaginative and kind-hearted boy’s mission to become a superhero is challenged when his optimistic view of the world begins to crumble.

 

Theme: Choices
Air Date: July 7, 2020

 

Film: Silhouettes
Director: Akil Dupont
Synopsis:
“A fairy tale romance about a painter who sees the world through silhouettes.

 

Film: One Small Step
Director: Aqsa Altaf
Synopsis:
A 9-year-old girl attempts to juggle the responsibilities of school and her younger siblings after her mother goes missing.

 

Theme: Black Girls Matter
Air Date: July 14, 2020

 

Film: Lalo’s House
Director: Kelley Kali
Synopsis:
Inspired by a series of true events. After being taken from their home in Jacmel, Haiti, two young sisters must escape a child sex trafficking ring, disguised as a Catholic orphanage.

 

Film: Haven
Director: Kelly Fyffe-Marshall
Synopsis:
As a young girl the first beauty salon chair a girl is introduced to sitting between her mother’s legs. It’s a place where innocence is treasured, bonds are strengthened and confidence is boosted.

 

Film: Finding Phoebe
Director: Sadé Clacken Joseph
Synopsis:
A 17-year-old girl struggles to find her way in the streets of West Baltimore, while balancing the toxicity of an unstructured home and falling in love for the first time.

 

Theme: I Said What I Said
Air Date: July 21, 2020

 

Film: The Reunion
Director: Carmen Wilkerson
Synopsis:
A teenage girl is sexually assaulted at a drunken party. The next morning, her friends debate what to do next – call the police, tell their parents or keep it a secret.

 

Film: Mango Wars
Director: Kyle Chin
Synopsis:
Mr. Brown struggles to defend his moneymaking mango tree from the constant raids of passersby’s, neighbors and a clever thief.

 

Film: The Bill
Director: Caralene Robinson
Synopsis:
Barbie’s 35th birthday celebration brings together her diverse group of friends. When the bill arrives, the best intentions dissolve into drama.

 

Theme: Showing Grace
Air Date: July 28, 2020

 

Film: Saving Billy
Director: Vickie Adams
Synopsis:
Homelessness is not a choice. A bad decision, a natural disaster, or even the loss of a job can result in homelessness.

 

Film: The Ride
Director: Nakia Stephens
Synopsis:
A young woman, traveling to see her estranged father, goes from small talk to profound life advice with a stranger who knows her better than she thinks.

 

Film: Dreaming of a Black Christmas
Director: Nakia Stephens
Synopsis:
Experiencing Christmas with his girlfriend’s family for the first time, Kamari’s wokeness is challenged by inflated egos and white Jesus.

 

For more information about the 2020 Urban Indie Film Block, visit www.aspire.tv.

 

ABOUT ASPIRE TV

AspireTV is the television entertainment network that reflects the people and modern-day experiences of Black culture and urban lifestyle in a way that is inspiring, authentic and entertaining. AspireTV offers original scripted and reality series, specials and independent films as well as beloved dramas, contemporary comedies and provocative documentaries that allow you to connect and … see yourself here. The network was launched on June 27, 2012 by Magic Johnson Enterprises. AspireTV is available in 24 of the top 25 African American markets including New York City, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago and Washington, D.C. For more information, visit  www.aspire.tv,  facebook.com/AspireTV,  @TVaspire on Twitter and @TVaspire on Instagram.

 

ABOUT DAMN WRITE ORIGINALS

DAMN WRITE ORIGINALS is a New Media Screenwriting Label based in Atlanta, GA. Founded by screenwriter, Nakia Stephens, in March 2014, this indie screenwriting label serves as a vehicle to drive stories that specifically ascend Women & People of Color. Our writers are committed to bold and authentic storytelling and have developed screenplays for platforms, such as Film, Television, Interactive Gaming, Animated Stories and Web Series. In addition to our company projects, Damn Write Originals also desires to help other storytellers bring their stories to life by offering services such as script feedback, story consultations, and screenplay writing.



About the Author

Editor-in-Chief of The Hype Magazine, and internationally published arts & entertainment journalist. Member of the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture as well as the United States Press Corps.


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