*For the young sister on the street, that grew from concrete, and that wants more out of life. For the beautifully hued young girls of African descent who are in need of an angel of sorts, we offer you Yasmin Shiraz.
Though she may not call herself a miniature media magnate, she could probably make an argument for it if she really wanted to. She’s an award-winning author of 7 books, including “Retaliation: A Novel” and “The Blueprint for My Girls” series. She also garnered accolades with her novels “Exclusive” and “Privacy.” That’s a pretty hefty media resume right there, but she’s also turned heads with the award-winning “Call Me Dae,” the second film to be released from “Still Eye Rise Films.” Her first film was “Can She Be Saved” and it dealt with violence among teens as well.
September 16th marked the premiere of her latest documentary, “The Difference” at the Capital Cares Suicide Prevention Conference at the Kellogg Conference Center in Washington, DC. It features three African American youths from Washington, DC who had a personal experience with suicide. I was happy to talk with author, writer, publisher, and film producer Yasmin Shiraz about her most recent works, her transition into film and her mission.
“My most recent film is entitled ‘The Difference.’ It’s a documentary film that was funded by a grant through the DC Department of Mental Health,” Shiraz told EURweb.com. “I spoke with 3 teens, 2 of which had attempted suicide and a 3rd teen who had a friend who had been thinking about it. It was my first project in which my company, Still Eye Rise Media.”
“My latest film also gives my fans another tool with which to work with young people,” she continued. “If you need a film that opens up the discussion about suicide within the black community, “The Difference” is that film.”
As we stated earlier, Yasmin Shiraz has been creating content geared toward empowering children of color since the very beginning of her career. “The Difference” is yet another offering aimed at empowering urban youth. I asked Shiraz whether anyone had ever thanked her. After all, she has been consistent with her message of hope for over a decade.
“The letters that I receive are both heartwarming and heartbreaking,” said Shiraz. “I receive letters from girls who say that my books connect with them and they see themselves in the books. That makes me feel great. But, many of the letters are from girls who feel they do not have support and many of whom are without hope. It is many a day that I open an email with a smile and close it with a tear.”
“I’ve recently begun to receive testimonials from teachers, and non-profit group leaders who tell me how my books and films are helping their young people have honest dialogue with each other and the adults,” she continued. “I cannot tell you how happy those emails and conversations make me.”
With such a wide array of talents there’s no doubt Shiraz is as smart as, and likely more talented than, any studio exec, of television producer. She would not only survive but thrive in any media production environment. So why does she stick to her ongoing message of strength, wisdom and courage for young Americans? The answer is obvious, but we’ll let her tell it.
“My mission is to help young black girls, but to also help girls of all ethnicities who are struggling with various issues,” she explained. “Growing up as an African American, black girls relate to me. I know their stories, but as I’ve traveled the world and met other girls, I realize that girls–no matter their shade–share universal insecurities, issues, and problems. My purpose is to be there for them.”
Though her film career is garnering most of the attention these days, Shiraz is still known to most as an award-winning author. I asked her what prompted her to moved away from publishing and into film production.
” (A)s a writer who wrote two books that were published by Simon & Schuster and books that I independently published, I could tell that the book business was going downhill long before the crap hit the fan. So, going into film also was a self-preservation issue. I’m all about the survival of the fittest.”
It may have been self-preservation that made Ms. Shiraz move from publishing to film, but we would argue she equally brilliant in both genres. “The Difference” is slated to show at Howard University today, September 27th. For more on the talented and always expanding Yasmin Shiraz, log onto www.yasminshiraz.net. For more on “The Difference,” go to: www.thedifferencefilm.com.
Story by Ricardo Hazell / [email protected]