Film School


I started NYU film school this week -- for the second time. To make a long story short, I began classes with last year's incoming students, but decided to take another year before starting grad school. I'm actually at least 2.5 times more excited this year than I was last year, which is a lot for me, because I'm typically too mellow to get excited about anything that doesn't involve some combination of sci-fi, vegan brownie-bottom cheesecake, or DJ Ian Friday.

In hindsight, waiting was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Unfortunately, unlike last year, I'm the only African in our class of 40-some-odd students, one out of six black students, and one out of two black females. At lunchtime on the first day, instead of talking with the other newbies, I commiserated with my fellow sistah who I abandoned last year, leaving her as the only (self-professed) angry black woman in the class.

She told me that the prof-politics are rough, which I had already heard through the grapevine. Nobody ever seems to understand her perspective or identify with the nuances of her black characters, deeming them implausible or unrealistic. While the most far-fetched white characters and plot lines are given a thumbs up. She got so stressed out about having to defend her choices and herself that her appetite suffered, ass disappeared, and hair started falling out.

Listening to her story, I finally realized what my secret weapon is, as articulated by one of my friends during a late-night powwow about my first day: I'm a non-threatening black female. I look like a softie, easily manipulated, swayed, or taken advantage of. Whether or not any of that is true, perception is 9/10ths of reality, and I'm beginning to think it could be quite useful if people underestimate how tough I am.

As nice as I look, I'm definitely blessed with a bit of Naija charm. Apart from 419 scams, Nigerians are shrewd and determined people. Maybe you have seen it in action. Your mother goes up to the register in a pleasant mood, setting the groceries on the conveyor belt quite calmly. The cashier rings them up, charging an extra $.10 per pound for her red onion, and suddenly the corners of your mother's mouth turn up, she sucks her teeth, and speaks in that angry-Naija-woman voice until the manager himself fixes the mistake.

I can definitely play the Naija card when I need it. In an industry dominated by white, predominantly Jewish, and entitled males, I will need to be tough. And I'm fairly certain that I will achieve my creative vision because of it.

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  1. Lol...I agree with you on the Naija charm. We act so calm and non-threatening but when the push comes to shove...we know how to handle ourselves. My mom always address people as Sirs and Madams and I ask why. I knew why when it came to a situation when an individual wanted to cheat her but couldnt because she had placed him on a high pedastal by calling him


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