Black Public Media is funding a series of short films that celebrate diversity and gender identity.
The three-part series, I Am Who I Say I Am, will be released biweekly to coincide with LGBT History Month this month and Transgender Awareness Week Nov. 13–19. The first short film was published Thursday. Each film will be less than three minutes.
“With Black transgender and nonbinary people facing marginalization at alarming rates, it is crucial that we view these issues through a Black lens,” said BPM Executive Director Leslie Fields-Cruz, who is also the parent of a nonbinary child, in a news release. “With I Am Who I Say I Am we aim to help kickstart conversations that can lead to all members of our community being afforded their full humanity, beginning with gender affirmation.”
The series is directed by Sophia Clark for Feral Films. The first episode features Janelle “Jei” Lawrence, an artist and educator who discusses gender-affirming pronouns at work. The second episode, to be released Oct. 20, includes Sharon Kidd-Fryer and Brit Fryer, a mother and son exploring familial acceptance; and Nov. 3, Maya Thompson, a pediatric dentist, discusses gender and health care.
“I Am Who I Say I Am aims to begin the process of changing hearts by first changing our habits, based on the fundamental belief that most people want to embrace and understand others, their differences and their potential to contribute to the greater good,” said Clark in the news release. “By showing the nuance in everyday experiences, these films are for anyone striving to open their mind beyond the binary.”
BPM reached out to influencers and celebrities to help promote the series: Big Freedia, a rapper famous in the New Orleans bounce music scene; Eva Reign, an actress and writer who starred in the 2022 film Anything’s Possible; and the Rev. Jacqui Lewis, author and senior minister at Middle Collegiate Church in New York.
The series is part of BPM’s social media campaign, Be HEARD!, launched in 2020 ahead of the presidential election to focus on social issues. I Am Who I Say I Am also follows a trend of increased investment in short-form content by public media groups, including BPM’s AfroPoP Shorts monthly video series, which launches in February.
BPM is one of five members of the National Multicultural Alliance who receive funding from CPB to promote a diverse range of content for public media. It has helped fund films such as Mama Gloria, I Am Not Your Negro, When Claude Got Shot and Mr. Soul!
Editor’s note: The launch date for AfroPoP Shorts has been rescheduled for February, according to a spokesperson for BPM. This story has been updated to reflect the change.