“To the world, she’s the #MeToo founder — the woman who has sparked a movement, changed the lives of other — but to me, she’s my mother.” Thus begins the voice-over of Brittany “B. Monet” Fennell’s short film “She’s Revolutionary,” a moving tribute to activist Tarana Burke.
The #MeToo movement has come to define the beginning of 2018 as more and more women have come forward with their stories of surviving sexual harassment, assault and abuse. “She’s Revolutionary” tells the story of Tarana Burke, the activist who started it all.
Burke has spent years helping survivors of sexual abuse — primarily girls of color — come to terms with their experiences. But it’s only recently that her phrase “MeToo” went viral and, in many ways, came to define our times. The film is a loving appreciation to her selfless work on behalf of survivors as well as her own story of survival.
“She’s Revolutionary” is part of our #IShapeMyWorld film series, launched in the collaboration with Girlgaze, an L.A.-based company that is determined to close the gender gap by creating opportunities for its global community of creators. (Read our interview with Amanda de Cadenet, founder of Girlgaze.)
We spoke with director B.Monet about her film, #metoo, #IShapeMyWorld, Girlgaze and more.
What does #IShapeMyWorld mean to you?
#IShapeMyWorld means pursuing the things that are most passionate and pushing forward despite adversity. No one ever said that life would be easy. However, we’re only given a certain amount of time on this world and I believe it’s important to give your life your best shot. It’s not like you can come back and do your life over again. So, go after the things you want, right now!
Can you tell us about your connection with Girlgaze?
I love that Girlgaze is dedicated to supporting the voices of young women and girls. I am happy to be part of a movement that celebrates the stories of women and girls globally. As a young woman of color, I do not always see my perspective represented in storytelling. I hope my very being will help the next girl who looks like me to prevail forward with filmmaking and storytelling. I believe spaces like Girlgaze help to honor both underrepresented voices and also the “other.” It’s very important that artists speak their truth. Girlgaze is a game-changer in the industry.
Did you discover anything unexpected while working with Tarana?
It was so beautiful to see her share her humanity with me. In many interviews, she has not had a chance to show her personality, who she really is. It was so emotional to see her speak about her definition of joy that is her daughter, Khia. As a director, you hope to create empathy on screen. This film would not have been possible without Tarana’s generosity, but also her willingness to be open on camera with me and the rest of the crew. I am super thankful to her, I believe that this film will allow people to know Tarana Burke as both a modern day superwoman as well as a revolutionary role model for us all.
Who are some of the powerful women you look up to and/or have had the opportunity to work with?
I have been fortunate to work with Nyemiah Supreme and Elle Varner on my short film Q.U.E.E.N. that is, ironically, about a teenage girl who has been sexually abused but uses rap as her outlet to express her pain. Working with Tarana has been a joy and I hope to work with her on more projects. I really loved seeing her in action. Additionally, some powerful women I look up to are my mother, my grandmother, my sister, Solange, Frida Khalo, Whoopi Goldberg, Maya Angelou and Sophia from the Golden Girls, lol.
What conversations are you hoping to see happen this Women’s History Month?
I want to see conversations around policy change regarding sexual harassment, rape and abuse. But I also want to see these policies and laws enforced in everyday life. It would be great to also have conversations about how everyone can get involved in their local government so we can begin to create a different future for our boys, and especially our girls.
If you had one piece of advice for the next generation of young women coming up in today’s society, what would it be?
If someone makes you feel uncomfortable, trust your gut. Do not let any man degrade you, ever. Stand up for yourself, even if it’s difficult. Find a way that feels true to you. Do not accept anyone’s idea of you. Never be afraid to be unapologetically yourself.
What’s next for you?
I’m excited to be directing a commercial for LuMee and hope to work with more brands soon before directing my first feature film, Q.U.E.E.N. I hope my work can inspire people to write a new chapter for themselves.