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Imagine Otherwise: Felami Burgess on Queer of Color Media Representation & Traveling for Inspiration
What does truly diverse media representation look like, and how can transmedia help folks contribute? How can scholars, artists, and academics use this political moment to foster dialogue? How does travel and transnationalism expand our artistic vision?
In Episode 31 of the Imagine Otherwise podcast, host Cathy Hannabach chats with guest Felami Burgess about queer of color media representation, Felami’s multimedia and transnational trajectory, how any class on any topic can be an opportunity to create, and why now more than ever we need to braid art, activism, and academia to build better worlds.
We invite you to check out the episode, as well as our show notes and highlights below.
Guest: Felami Burgess
- Felami Burgess is a media producer, filmmaker, writer and educator based in New York City. In a desire to create greater opportunities for women, people of color and members of the LGBQT communities to produce and deliver their content to audiences, Felami provides digital content, distribution strategies, outreach partnerships and marketing initiatives to a diversity of independent media makers. Currently, she is the producing partner for the upcoming digital series Black Card. Felami is also a co-producer for the digital documentary series, Tempo Rubato, which starts in Bogotá and Medellín, Colombia, and traces the growth of Afro-Colombian jazz and culture throughout the world. She is also the lead producer for the relationship and self-healing transmedia project, The Let Go. Felami was involved in marketing and distribution strategy for the 2012 Haitian music documentary, When the Drum is Beating, which premiered on PBS’ Independent Lens series. In addition to her work as a producer, Felami has worked as a Contributing Editor for the international magazine Afrimpact. As a writer, she has written feature stories focused on issues throughout Africa, with particular attention paid to the continent’s rising impact transnationally. Felami has also taught film and media studies in at Lehman College of CUNY and Temple University. And as if all of this wasn’t impressive enough, Felami is tackling yet another new medium, as she is completing work on her first novel.
We chatted about:
- What true diversity of media content and creators looks like (10:34)
- How different mediums (film, television, fiction, etc.) lead to different artistic expressions (16:05)
- How travel and transnational exploration can transform an artistic journey (17:38)
- How this political era is an opportunity to bring energy and urgency to the classroom (20:36)
- Transmedia as a tool for marginalized groups to create their own opportunities for media representation (25:54)
- Imagining Otherwise (28:26)
- On her forthcoming digital series, Black Card: “What we’re doing with the show is seeking to explore and examine, both in a serious and satirical way, what blackness really is. Or any race, for that matter, because what is race essentially but a social construction wrapped in historical garments?”
- On media production as creating opportunity for underrepresented groups: “Instead of waiting for the phone to ring and waiting for opportunities to be presented to me, it became very apparent that i needed to create those opportunities. So I did.”
- On truly diverse media representation: “We want a more inclusive world where not just we’re all represented and heard, but within these communities, people have different things to say.”
- On the necessity of travel for artists: “Travel to me is as vital as water is needed for growth and survival.”
- On how marginalized groups can reclaim this political era: “Even though the advancements of the Obama administration are already in the process of being rolled back, the months and years ahead will offer us great opportunities to reassert our power and relevance in society.”
- On Felami’s vision of an ideal world: “A world where everyone is included and recognized and their stories in all their vibrancy, painful rawness can be told, devoid of sanitation or the desire to make others comfortable for the sake of profit. It’s necessary to explore other people’s journeys and to take your own, and to experience the discomfort.”
More from Felami:
- Felami’s website
- Black Card
- Tempo Rubato
- The Let Go
- When the Drum is Beating
- Felami on Vimeo
- Tenfold Gaming Initiative
Projects and people discussed:
- BRIC TV
- Human Rights Watch
- Sans Soleil, a documentary by Chris Marker
- Measures of Distance, a documentary by Mona Hatoum
- Reassemblage, a documentary by Trinh Minh Ha
- Michel Foucault
- Ava DuVernay, first Black woman to win Best Director at Sundance Film Festival
- Ava DuVernay’s opening speech at Film Independent
- Imagine Otherwise interview with Aymar Jean Christian, episode 3
About Imagine Otherwise:
Imagine Otherwise is a podcast about the people and projects bridging art, activism, and academia to build better worlds. Episodes offer in-depth interviews with creators who use culture for social justice, and explore the nitty-gritty work of imagining and creating more just worlds. Check out full podcast episodes and show notes at ideasonfire.net/episodes. Imagine Otherwise is produced by Ideas on Fire, an academic editing and consulting agency helping progressive, interdisciplinary scholars write and publish awesome texts, enliven public conversations, and create more just worlds.
If you enjoyed this episode, check these out:
- Imagine Otherwise episode 3: Aymar Jean Christian discusses OpenTV—his media company empowering queer, trans, and cis-women and artists of color to produce and distribute indie series for artists by artists
- Imagine Otherwise episode 23: André Pérez talks about Been T/Here and the Trans Oral History Project, filmic projects centering the voices and stories of of transgender people of color
- Imagine Otherwise episode 22: Wazhmah Osman opens up about her process of making her film Postcards from Tora Bora, a documentary exploring her return to her childhood home of Kabul, Afghanistan nearly 20 years after her family fled Cold War violence.
- Imagine Otherwise episode 18: Minal Hajratwala shares how transnational migration shaped her writing process for her epic memoir Leaving India: My Family’s Journey From Five Villages to Five Continents.