Kenya Downs features DeShuna Spencer and KweliTV

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In “#BlackGirlMagic: Meet the Creative Gunning to Bring Black Movie-Streaming to the Diaspora,” Kenya Downs speaks about transformative work by DeShuna Spencer, who created KweliTV after getting frustrated by the lack of diverse black films on popular streaming services. Downs underlines Spencer’s goal, which is to celebrate who we are and our diversity while showing off what our emerging creators in the Diaspora can do.”  “As black people in the U.S.,” Spencer says, “we should be able to learn about Trinidad, or South Africa or Brazil through media arts.” Read full review at The Root.

DeShuna Spencer admits the idea of an online library of black indie films started from ambitions she’d admit to being “a little self-serving.”

“The idea literally came to me after scrolling through a bunch of cable channels and not seeing anything that I wanted to watch,” she says. “I was frustrated because there was not a space to watch black independent films, particularly from a global perspective.”

By 2015, Spencer had gotten so frustrated in finding media that reflected the diversity of the African Diaspora that she decided to act. Then she learned more about the hardships black filmmakers face getting their content picked up by streaming services. She quickly realized that there wasn’t a lack of content, but a void of platforms. So she figured: Why not create one?

Soon after, KweliTV was formed.

The streaming platform, similar to Netflix or Hulu, allows monthly subscribers unlimited access to more than 200 indie films from nearly 150 creatives across Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as black communities in Europe and North America. The goal is for KweliTV (kweli means “truth” in Swahili) to give emerging independent creatives an opportunity to get their work shown—especially to the audiences who look like them. “It’s also an opportunity for us to just learn more about each other,” she says. “As black people in the U.S., we should be able to learn about Trinidad, or South Africa or Brazil through media arts, and that’s what KweliTV strives to do.”

After two years, KweliTV boasts more than 2,000 monthly, paid subscribers and nearly 20,000 online members—and those numbers continue to climb. For black visual artists struggling to move beyond small film festivals, it’s a much-needed avenue for securing additional viewership. “There aren’t that many avenues for nonwhite, independent filmmakers to be seen, so KweliTV has the potential to be a game changer for those us who have struggled finding places to showcase our work,” says Charysse Tia Harper, a longtime filmmaker with three films on KweliTV including a look at Trinidad’s carnival and a documentary on one man’s mission to offer one family $1-per-month housing for a year.

“Kweli allows us to celebrate who we are and our diversity while showing off what our emerging creators in the Diaspora can do,” she says. [. . .]

For full article, see https://www.theroot.com/blackgirlmagic-meet-the-creative-gunning-to-bring-bla-1820853736

Also see http://deshuna.com/ and https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC41JZ_14RlxGpLnqe_yrN-w/feed

[Photo above by Kenya Downs.]

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