BET HER Announces Five Female-Centric Original Films With Producer Tressa Azarel Smallwood – The Hype Magazine
BET HER, in partnership with producer Tressa Azarel Smallwood of MegaMind Media, announces the completion of of five female-centric original short films, directed by prominent African American women primarily known for being in front of the camera. Veteran Hollywood stars VIVICA A. FOX (“Kill Bill“), YVETTE NICOLE BROWN (“Community”), MONA SCOTT YOUNG (“The Gossip Game”), TA’RHONDA JONES (“Empire“) and CARALENE ROBINSON (“Disordher“) dive into location shooting in Maryland’s Prince George’s County this week, helming five brand-new, original films. These 20-minute dramatic short films focus on topics vital to today’s Black women, ranging from the varied impact of breast cancer, mental health struggles, and domestic violence on them and their families. The films will live under the BET HER “Her Stories” franchise — a platform to empower the next generation of Black women filmmakers through a curated selection of original movies and documentaries. “Her Stories” provides women filmmakers a platform to tell authentic stories that celebrate, inspire and support Black women narratives.
“We are tapping some of the most talented women in Hollywood to tell the stories that affect our community, “ said Connie Orlando, Executive Vice President of Specials, Music Programming & Music Strategy at BET. Partnering with Tressa, BET Her hopes to educate and empower our audience by continuing to provide a platform for women filmmakers who are trailblazers in the industry.”
“Even though I’ve licensed films to BET previously, being chosen for the second year in a row to produce these crucial initiatives and expand the series with all African-American women in front of AND behind the camera exclusively for BET Her is such an honor,” says Tressa Smallwood.
“BET Her is dedicated to telling stories that support and celebrate Black women in front of and behind the camera as well as bringing awareness to important issues directly affecting the Black community,” said Lorisa Bates, VP, Content Strategy, Co-Productions & Multiplatform at BET. “We are proud to be the platform for these powerful stories and of the work that our female talent has put into these projects that are ever so timely.”
The Waiting Room (breast cancer series) and “The Couch (mental health series) each feature two 20-minute short films; The Hotline (domestic violence) features one 20-minute short. Each project brings light to the compelling issues with heart, grace and humanity while highlighting the disproportionate challenges Black women face when it comes to health care, mental health and domestic violence support. Tressa Azarel Smallwood produces; Shateka “SJ” Johnson, Patrese McClain, Lynette J. Blackwell, Dr. Missy Johnson, Lori Conway Ray, Deshawn Plair & Sade Oylnade are writers; Maggy Francois is casting director; and Kristin Iris Johnson serves as associate producer.
Vivica A. Fox directs Through Her Eyes which follows psychology major, Jasmine Brooksm as she becomes overly invested in her case study, a local homeless woman who suffers from Bipolar Disorder. As Jasmine’s interest grows so does her desperation to save the woman’s life. PREMIERES on JULY !0, 2021
Almost Enough, directed by Mona Scott Young, chronicles a day in the life of Patience Williams who is on the verge of a mid-life crisis fueled by clinical depression, anxiety and Covid-19. With everything going wrong, she looks to her new therapist to help turn her life around, and prevent a downward spiral that could take her away from living the life of her dreams. PREMIERES on JULY !0, 2021
Directed by Ta’Rhonda Jones, It Takes Two follows a wealthy socialite, Dayna Stevens, whose unexpected illness removes her from the tennis courts to chemotherapy. When she has a chance encounter with a stranger, she gains the support she’s been lacking from the most important people in her life.
Yvette Nicole Brown helms The Party which focuses on Summer Jackson, a successful magazine executive preparing to celebrate being cancer-free for five years. When she is blindsided by the news that her cancer has returned, Summer would rather die than go through the chemo for a second time.
Her Lyfeline, which will be directed by Caralene Robinson, follows London, a popular singer who is trapped in a high-profile, abusive relationship with her producer-boyfriend, King Sire. London reaches out to a domestic violence hotline under a pseudonym to protect her image as she fights to leave her abuser and maintain their celebrity while keeping it out of the public eye.
The Couch Initiative will be the first series of films to premiere in the BET Her Presents franchise on July 10, 2021, produced by Tressa Azarel Smallwood and production company MegaMind Media.