A few years ago, I wrote a screenplay entitled The Brown Rose, which was a semifinalist for the Sundance Institutute’s Screenwriter’s Lab. I had no idea brown roses actually existed until I did research, but to my great surprise, I discovered that these flowers aren’t akin to a unicorn. They actually grow out of the soil and come in many different varieties. Jocelyn. Grey Pearl. Butterscotch. Lavender Pinocchio.
The name of that last variety gave me so much life! Lavender (purple) is my favorite color, my birthstone and my grad school cohort. To me it symbolizes creativity, quirkiness and a connection to the Divine. Pinocchio — well, that’s obvious. As a fiction writer, I’m asking people to embrace a lie.
What I learned about brown roses, I wanted to share with other women of color. I texted every black woman I know, including my mother, to ask if they were aware that brown roses actually existed. None of them did.
How had this life-changing fact been hidden from us all these years, that even I, as a grown black woman, didn’t realize a rose the color of my skin actually pushed itself up through the earth? Dusky and strong. I began to see the brown rose as a metaphor for how women of color are marginalized and overlooked in society, not viewed as worthy, or beautiful or durable as the other roses. In spite of being rendered invisible on the daily, we are still relentless bloomers.
Lavender Pinocchio is my seed. It’s a production company that produces digital content (short stories, trailers, short films) to inspire an international dialogue about the issues black women face, raise our visibility in Hollywood and create complex, entertaining, challenging but rewarding roles for black actresses.
Because I also enjoy writing speculative fiction, many of my stories and short films are filtered through this lens (see what I did there?) Speculative fiction appeals to me and is a fitting medium to critique issues of injustice and oppression. As a woman of color in this society, I feel like I’m navigating a parallel universe every day. A fifth dimension for black women. Not that I’m a victim or a martyr. I’m using my laptop and lens as weapons of empowerment.