No one is born into greatness. Greatness is achieved through experience and self-exploration. And nothing carries more impact than listening to stories from those who’ve achieved incredible things. This project shows the individual journeys of a remarkable collection of artists, activists, athletes, and creators. Journeys punctuated by both triumph and adversity. Fights for racial, gender, and sexual equality. Fights against the degradation of the environment and the silencing of people with disabilities.
This series was created and directed by Oge Egbuonu and features Naomi Osaka, Tremaine Emory, Willow Smith, Jaden Smith, Brandon Flynn, Leyna Bloom, Haben Girma, Dolores Huerta, Karla Welch, Angela Beyince, Xiye Bastida, Melody Ehsani, Carlos Montes, Melina Abdullah, and Aja Monet, with portrait photograhs by Shaniqwa Jarvis and original music by Phantogram.
Watch a preview of the series here and follow along on Instagram and YouTube as new films are released weekly from February through June.
ATHLETE & ACTIVIST
Born in Osaka, Japan to a Haitian father and Japanese mother, Naomi is a three-time Grand Slam singles tennis champion, and the first Asian player to hold the #1 ranking in singles tennis. Voted Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year for 2020, Naomi has used her platform to shed light on the fight for racial and social justice in the U.S. and around the world.
Video Release Date: February 3, 2021
Activism, for me, it means speaking what you feel in your heart. Everyone has their experiences that shaped them, and no one can take that away from you.
– Naomi Osaka
ARTIST AND DESIGNER
A designer, artist, musician, filmmaker, and founder of Denim Tears, Emory speaks with unflinching detail about the experience of being a Black man in 21st century America. Born in Atlanta, Georgia, and raised in Queens, New York, Emory is a natural born storyteller. Through creative collaborations with icons like Kanye West and artist Tom Sachs, and now through an ongoing collaboration with Levi’s, Emory takes symbols of struggle and hurt, like the history of cotton in America, and transforms them into symbols of hope.
Video Release Date: February 10, 2021
I would tell a 14-year-old Tremaine, you'll save a lot of time if you don't seek any validation from external things.
– Tremaine Emory
HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYER & AUTHOR
The first Deafblind person to graduate from Harvard Law School, Haben Girma is a human rights lawyer advancing disability justice. Born in Oakland, California, her parents raised her with strong appreciation for her Eritrean and Ethiopian heritage. In 2010, she graduated from Lewis & Clark College magna cum laude, and in 2013 she earned her J.D. from Harvard Law School. Haben believes disability is an opportunity for innovation, and she advises tech companies, schools, and other organizations on increasing disability inclusion. President Obama named her a White House Champion of Change. She received the Helen Keller Achievement Award, a spot on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list, and TIME100 Talks. In 2019 she became an author with the publication of her memoir, Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law.
Video Release Date: February 19, 2021
You are not a burden. Anyone who says otherwise is afraid of your power.
– Haben Girma
PROFESSOR & ORGANIZER
An activist, intellectual, and mama, Melina is the co-founder of the Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles, co-director of Black Lives Matter-Grassroots and professor of Pan-African Studies at California State University, Los Angeles. Originally from Oakland, California, Melina is a self-described womanist-scholar-activist, and views the role that she plays in the academy as intrinsically linked to broader struggles for the liberation of oppressed people. World renowned as an expert on race, gender, class, and social movements, she has appeared in the documentary films 13th and (In)Visible Portraits, and co-hosts and co-produces a weekly radio program called Beautiful Struggle.
Video Release Date: February 23, 2021
A labor leader and civil rights activist, Dolores is co-founder, along with Cesar Chavez, of the United Farm Workers. Born in New Mexico to Mexican parents, she began organizing in 1955 when she co-founded the Stockton, California chapter of the Community Service Organization. She is most well known for her work with the UFW, where she helped organize the 1965 Delano grape strike that resulted in the organization’s first collective bargaining agreement, and where she originated the phrase, “Si, se puede,” or, “Yes, we can.” In 2012, Huerta received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama, and today she continues her work in community organizing through the Dolores Huerta Foundation.
Video Release Date: March 1, 2021
This is why they call it history instead of her-story. We know that, through the ages, many women have done magnificent and wonderful things, and yet their stories are lost in history.
– Dolores Huerta
DESIGNER AND STORYTELLER
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Melody Ehsani is a designer, and creative director best known for her eponymous clothing, footwear and jewelry lines. From a young age, Melody was inspired by hip hop, her environment in LA as a first generation child of immigrants, and the fight for social justice, forgoing a career in law for one that allowed her to explore her creative interests. Melody is frequently touted as one of streetwear’s leaders, consistently advocating for women’s equality through her designs while challenging the status quo and gender norms in a historically male-dominated industry.
Video Release Date: March 4, 2021
MUSICIAN, MODEL, ACTIVIST
Willow Smith is a multiplatinum selling artist, a true fashion icon and a talented actress. At the young age of 10-years-old, Smith became the youngest artist ever in the US to have a double platinum single. Teen Vogue and Dazed describes her vocals as “striking” and “powerful.” The New York Times has previously ordained her music as one the “25 Songs That Tell the Future of Music." Smith, along with her mother and grandmother, is a co-host on the highly acclaimed Daytime Emmy nominated Facebook Live talk show, “Red Table Talk,”. Smith has truly developed a powerful voice that can be seen and heard in all aspects of her work.
Video Release Date: March 17, 2021
MUSICIAN, ACTOR, ACTIVIST
Jaden is a multi-hyphenate actor, musician and activist. Smith made his big screen acting debut in “The Pursuit of Happyness” in 2006 starring opposite his father. Jaden’s third studio album, CTV3: Cool Tape Vol. 3, recently dropped this past fall on August 28, 2020. The album includes Jaden’s latest single “Cabin Fever” which was released in July of 2020. CTV3: Cool Tape Vol. 3 also features Justin Bieber on the track “Falling for You” and artist RAURY on “Endless Summer.” In 2019, Jaden added environmental activism to his resume with JUST Water, a company formed to drive positive social and environmental impact in everyday items while creating sustainable awareness around energy food and water. Jaden is a co-founder of 501CTHREE along with Drew FitzGerald. The non-profit is dedicated to driving innovation engineering and advocacy of solutions around global energy water and food challenges. They aim to provide clean water through a mobile water filtration system called ‘The Water Box.’ To date, The Water Box has helped provide clean water to Los Angeles’ Skid Row, and to communities in Flint, Michigan and Newark, New Jersey battling a water contamination crisis.
Video Release Date: March 22, 2021
It's about my 10-year-old self wanting to have some type of solution, or just to be in the conversation with the people that do.
– Jaden Smith
Karla Welch is a renowned stylist and the founder of xkarla, a collection of essentials loosely inspired by her celebrity clients. Over the course of her 20 plus years working in the fashion industry, Karla has worked with A-list clients like Justin Bieber, Tracee Ellis Ross, and Olivia Wilde and is a frequent Levi’s collaborator and partner. Recently, Karla has launched a new venture, The Period Company, through which she is able to help retell the story of people who period while pushing for more sustainable options.
Video Release Date: April 7, 2021
Becoming is such an awesome phrase. I think if everybody can look at their life in that way, it brings a nice bit of calm to your inner being.
– Karla Welch
Xiye Bastida is an environmentalist and activist, born in Mexico. With heritage from the Indigenous Otomi-Toltec nation, she counts the nation’s belief that if you take care of the Earth, it will take care of you as one of the driving forces that led her to environmental activism. Xiye has become a leading voice for Indigenous and immigrant visibility in climate activism, highlighting the environmental crises that affect marginalized communities. In 2019, Xiye helped organize the Global Climate Strikes, the world’s largest climate protest in history. Through her work with Re-Earth Initiative, she continues to help diversify the climate movement and make it more inclusive for environmentalists from all backgrounds.
Video Release Date: April 14, 2021
A longtime advocate for immigrant rights, public education, anti war and racial equality, Carlos Montes has been an activist for over 50 years. Inspired by his experience growing up in East L.A. while facing discrimination, racism, and police abuse, Carlos co-founded the Brown Berets and MEChA in the late 1960s. Carlos was a leader and direct participant in the historic 1968 ELA Chicano students high school walkouts and the original Chicano Moratorium against the Vietnam war. The Brown Berets set out to fight for the rights of Chicano people, influenced by the Black Panther Party, Martin Luther King, and the Black Liberation movement. The Brown Berets have become a representation of the Mexican-American civil rights movement, promoting Black & Brown unity. Carlos remains an activist, continuing his fight against police killings, promoting public education, for immigrant rights, against US wars through organizations like Centro CSO: Community Service Organization, Chicano Moratorium and Fight Back News.
Video Release Date: May 24, 2021
ACTRESS & SONGWRITER
Hailing from Galveston Texas, Angela Beyince is an actress, songwriter, and businesswoman. Up until 2015, Angela served as the Vice President of Operations at Parkwood Entertainment, Beyoncé’s entertainment and management company. As a songwriter, Angela penned hits like ‘Upgrade U’, ‘Naughty Girl’ and ‘Why Don’t You Love Me’. Angela has recently pivoted to acting, starring in roles on shows like Sistas that allow her to empower and inspire other women.
Video Release Date: May 28, 2021
Brandon Flynn has always found it important to speak on what he believes in. He continues to amplify voices who not only reflect his own beliefs, but also who have altered and sharpened his point of view over the course of time. As a working actor (whose credits include 13 Reasons Why, Ratched and True Detective), he is aware that the entertainment industry and the narratives consistently elevated to the masses can easily – and often inaccurately – shape what is deemed “normal” by societal terms. Brandon is a believer in shifting that paradigm. He uses his platform to support Queer voices and movements such as Black Lives Matter, while continuing to show up for causes that are important to him and his community.
Video Release Date: June 2, 2021
I think showing people how to love me, how to think of me, I think of that as activism.
– Brandon Flynn
Actress, model, dancer, and activist, Leyna was the first openly transgender woman to feature in the pages of Vogue India. In 2019, she made her feature film debut in the Martin Scorsese-produced Port Authority, a film that premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, making her the first transgender woman of color to feature in a leading role at a major international film festival. Along with advocating for transgender rights, Leyna is also a prominent figure in the ballroom community, where she is internationally known as the “Polynesian Princess.”
Video Release Date: June 9, 2021
The advice I would give myself is that every inch of you, inside and out, is beautiful. Everywhere you go, you belong in that space.
– Lenya Bloom
ARTIST AND FILMMAKER
Oge is an artist, storyteller, filmmaker and documentarian who dedicates her career to creating disruptive, inspirational storytelling. Over the course of her career, Oge has helped to bring to life films like Eye in the Sky, Loving, and most recently her feature documentary directorial debut with (In)Visible Portraits, a documentary that explores the otherizing of Black Women in America, as told in their own words. The documentary has received critical acclaim from industry insiders and was recently acquired by Oprah’s OWN network, set to air in 2021. In addition, in 2020, Oge conceptualized and directed Levi's Vote PSA, encouraging and advocating for folks to utilize their voices with their vote.
Video Release Date: June 23, 2021
If you could see a glimpse of your future, and if you could see a glimpse of your greatness, you will stop doubting what's possible.
– Oge Egbuono