This week we are getting ready for, Reframed ' A Meeting of the Eyes' - a conversation on art, photography and music featuring the talented Emari Traffie, Dana Washington, Alima Lee, Sophia Nahli Allison - hosted by Gia Azevedo and moderated by Miriha.
Here we learn more about visual journalist and media arts educator Sophia Nahli Allison.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Sophia Nahli Allison and I’m an experimental documentary filmmaker from South Central Los Angeles. I come from a family of strong black artists. My mother is a storyteller, my dad was a musician, and my brother is a cellist and singer. I grew up with an appreciation for black art, culture and history and I’ve lived many different lives. I believe in afrofutirsm, black liberation, queer freedom, examining the past, documenting the present and reimagining the future. My background is in photojournalism and I’m a grad student studying documentary filmmaking at UNC, but currently I’m back home in LA building community, creating and healing with nature.
What creative mediums are you into the most?
I love short form documentary filmmaking and through that medium discovering unique and unconventional approaches to telling stories.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
The strength and resilience of black women. History, memories, life experiences, taking chances, past moments of fear, the OG black visual storytellers, art, friends, mentors, the make believe. I’m greatly inspired right now by my ancestors and returning to the core foundation and root of black storytelling. It’s spiritual, it’s methodical, it’s collaborative, it’s fearless, it’s a language of it’s own that not everyone can understand.
Any upcoming projects or collaborations that you are excited about?
I’m currently working on a short documentary with my dear friend Fam Udeorji about an amazing young girl from South Central Los Angeles whose story deserves to finally be heard. Fam and I are both natives of the community and we deeply care about the integrity and importance of this piece.
I’m also excited to begin working with youth again. I spent 5 years teaching photo and video to young folks, it’s pure joy, and within that collaboration we both grow and learn. Giving the tools to youth so they can tell their stories, now that is what empowerment looks like. That is how you start the revolution, accessibility.
What does community mean to you?
My love for community stems from both my deep rooted appreciation for the community I grew up in, and the people I decide to build and engage in dialogue with. Community is caring for the wellbeing of those you identity with, be that race, gender, sexuality etc...you care for your people. Their fight is your fight. The work I do, is for my people. It’s a responsibility.
Dream collab – who/ what would it be?
There are a lot of new and beautiful folks that have come into my life recently and I deeply admire their minds. Dope black artists and storytellers. Honestly, I want to collaborate with good people who have a unique perspective on the world and understand that storytelling comes from the soul. It’s not self glorification or pumping out content. It’s a methodical process. Now within the industry, I would love to sit, talk and just look in the eyes of Julie Dash, Kara Walker, Elaine Welteroth, Erykah Badu, Barry Jenkins, Khalil Joseph and Bradford Young.
Any advice for someone trying to pursue their passions?
Know who you are, your story. Build work that you are happy with, noone else, just you and the people you’re collaborating with. F*** recognition, that will come in time, but you have to be in touch with your spirit and the spirit of storytelling. Stay genuine and true to yourself and don’t lose yourself in the chaos. Never compromise or compare. Surround yourself with good people, good genuine souls. Enjoy the journey.
What do you hope for the future?
Happiness, Equality, Stories that empower and make visible/humanize those who have been marginalized. Love, shit...we have to really care about each other and ourselves.
Lastly, what are you looking forward to the most for the upcoming Reframed 'A Meeting of the Eyes' panel discussion?
I’m looking forward to seeing where the conversation goes, how others view the world and their work within it.
Self Portrait by Sophia Nahli Allison
Follow Sophia on Instagram