Being Black & 6teen stars talented 16-year old Abi Simms from Thornton Heath, South London and her powerful spoken-word piece about what it feels like to be Black and 16 in Britain, penned the day she found out about the murder of George Floyd. It was directed by Lainey Richardson, an award-winning British Filmmaker Ghanaian and Jamaican heritage, hailing from Camden Town.
This is the final instalment for the charity Football Beyond Borders who’ve been providing support to hundreds of school-age kids across Britain during the Covid-19 pandemic, including young Abi.
Richardson “Abi’s poem brought tears to my eyes the first time I read it. So unique to Abi’s own experience, yet so powerful in its ability to articulate sentiments that I think a lot of people can relate to, it felt like such an important and relevant perspective to bring to screen.
I got to know Abi over Zoom and drew inspiration from her life to come up with the creative vision. To me, from the outside looking in, this is not a story about the struggle, but a story about triumph, of Abi’s strength, courage and journey to becoming, so I wanted to shift the focus to themes of Black pride, Black joy, Black beauty, and Black excellence through intimate imagery depicting Abi’s life, and the juxtaposition of stunning still images from photographers who spotlight Black cultures and identities, that interrupt the screen and help build this narrative.
I want people to take from this film is the misconception of what it is to be black and what it is to be 16. I labelled a few stereotypes that we hear from a young age and just hoped people would understand what it really feels like. "
Written by & starring: Abi Simms
Charity: Football Beyond Borders
Agency: Dark Horses London
Creative Director: Adam Burns
Production Company: Caviar Content
Director: Lainey Richardson
Managing EP: Sorcha Shepherd
EP: Ellie Goodwin
Producer: Tash Bloom
Production Assistant: Ivy Richardson @ivy.richardson, Samira Conteh @its_samiracle
Cinematographer: Jake Gabbay @jake_gabbay
1st AD: Yasmin Godo @yazzypresents
1st AC: James Hills @jamesroberthills, Pete Wade @nowthenpete
2nd AC: Will Crafts @williamcrafts
Gaffer: Keiran Brown @k_brown_gaffer
Sound Recordist: Jeremy Brown @jezbrownsound
Spark: Max Gabbay @max_gabbay
Hair & Make-up: Lauraine Bailey @laurainebailey
Camera car: Joseph Dudley @josephydudleystrongman / Natasja Dudley / Henry Westray @henrywestray
Camera hire: @panavision
Grip hire: @ferelequipment
Lighting hire: @panaluxworld
Editors: Hassani Frank @haas3503 / Art Jones @work_by_art_at_work @workeditorial
Post Production: @electric.theatre.collective Luke Morrison @thehux, Oliver Whitworth
Music Score: Guy Wood @guy_wampa_wood
Music Licensing for Stormzy: @iamedw4ard
Stormzy and his management & Warner Chapel
PHOTOGRAPHERS (in order of appearance)
@seanpressley_, @joelhoneywell, @rayneutron, @whoisdamaster, @kiana.bosman, @fideletty, @jekafe, @sirius.film, @totheppl, @jveloz, @jassieuo (model: @nyadhuor; stylist: @j.i.nnamani ; mua: @champaineivy), @visualsbyk, @mahaneela.jpg, @bobbyrogers_, @joanvillalon, @gmalhotra, @claybanks, @flongala, @nolis
Abi & Her dad Anthony, Stefan Imeson, Bacon's College, Blessed and Patrick at Blessed West-Indian Take-away, London Borough of Southwark, Lee Pavey, Oliver Whitworth