FROM POVERTY TO THE BIG SCREEN

He grew up in a life of poverty, drugs and jail, but chased his dreams to become a voice for his community.  MetroFocus sits down with award-winning actor, writer, community arts activist, and most recently the star, co-writer, and producer of the film, “Chapter and Verse,” Daniel Beaty.

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Chasing the Dream: Poverty and Opportunity in America is a multi-platform public media initiative that provides a deeper understanding of the impact of poverty on American society. Major funding for this initiative is provided by The JPB Foundation. Additional funding is provided by Ford Foundation.

Aired on June 30, 2017 & January 1, 2018. 

TRANSCRIPT

> AWARD-WINNING ACTOR, WRITER AND COMMUNITY ACTIVIST DANIEL BEADY HAS AN INCREDIBLE LIFE STORY.

AS THE SON OF A HEROIN DEALER WHO WAS IN AND OUT OF PRISON AT LEAST 06 TIMES OVER THE COURSE OF HIS LIFE, DANIEL LEARNED ABOUT THE IMPACT INCARCERATION HAS ON FAMILIES AND COMMUNITIES.

HE OVERCAME THIS AND CHASED HIS OWN DREAM.

HIS LATEST PROJECT IN WHICH HE STARS AND CO-WROTE AND PRODUCED REFLECTS THE DIFFICULTIES MANY AFRICAN-AMERICANS FACE TODAY.

IN THIS GRIPPING FILM HE PLACE LANCE A REFORMED GANG LEADER RETURNING TO HARLEM AFTER SERVING A TEN YEAR PRISON SENTENCE AND FINDING HIMSELF UPABLE TO USE THE TECHNOLOGICAL SKILLS HE LEARNED IN JAIL.

FIRST HERE'S A PREVIEW OF 'CHAPTER AND VERSE.'

I'M LANCE ENGEL.

I WANT YOU TO CHECK WITH YOUR FIVE TAR GENERALS, HAVE THEM CHECK WITH THE OLDER GENTS.

HOW LONG YOU BEEN OUT OF THE JOINT.

A FEW WEEKS.

I GOT TWO COMPUTER CERTIFICATES.

I'LL WORK THE FIRST WEEK FOR FREE.

MAKE THE DELIVERIES.

WHAT DID YOU GO TO JAIL FOR?

THIS IS A REALLY POWERFUL FILM AND I THINK PARTICULARLY FOR AFRICAN-AMERICANS IT'S GOING TO BE INCREDIBLY POWERFUL BECAUSE YOU SEE THE STORY OF, AS WE MENTIONED IN THE LEAD, THE GENTLEMAN LANCE COMING BACK FROM PRISON AND TRYING REINTEGRATE INTO SOCIETY BUT TOLD FROM HIS POINT OF VIEW.

WHY DID YOU GO IN THAT DIRECTION

WE WANTED TO TALE STORY OF A PORTRAYAL OF A BLACK MAN AND A BLACK MAN WHO WE DON'T HEAR FROM PERSONALLY A LOT.

WE HEAR ABOUT.

SO THIS IS A MAN THAT'S JUST GETTING OUT OF PRISON AS YOU SAID.

HE HAS CHANGED AND THE COMMUNITY AROUND HIM HAS CHANGED.

WE SPEND A LOT OF TIME SEEING THE WORLD THROUGH HIS EYES SO WE CAN TRULY KNOW THAT'S RIGHT, THE HUMANITY, THE VULNERABILITY OF THIS BLACK MAN THAT WE THINK WE KNOW BUT IN MANY WAYS WE DON'T.

WE USUALLY ONLY HEAR AS PART OF STATISTICS AND NOT AS A MULTI-DIMENSIONAL HUMAN BEING.

ABSOLUTELY.

BECAUSE OF THE PLAGUE OF MASS INCARCERATION IN THIS COUNTRY, AND BECAUSE WHEN THESE MEN COME OUT OF PRISON, MEN AND WOMEN, THEY STILL HAVE DREAMS, THEY STILL HAVE HOPE, THEY STILL HAVE MANY YEARS OF LIFE.

WE DO NEED TO CREATE SPACE IN OUR SOCIETY TO SEE THEM IN THEIR FULL HUMANITY VERSUS BEING STATISTICS.

HOW DID YOU INCORPORATE YOUR OWN PERSONAL NARRATIVE

MY FATHER BECAUSE OF HIS HEROIN ADDICTION AND SELLING HAS BEEN IN AND OUT OF PRISON.

OLDER BROTHER ALSO IN AND OUT OF PRISON.

MY CO-WRITER AND DIRECTOR OF THE FILM AS AN ACTIVIST IN THE BLACK PANTHERS SPENT TIME IN PRISON.

I DO PERFORMANCES IN PRISON.

ONE OF THE THINGS THAT I FEEL IN GENERAL IS THAT WE HAVE TO FIND WAYS TO HEAR FROM THE MOST VULNERABLE IN OUR SOCIETY, ESPECIALLY IN THESE URGENT TIMES AND SO MY OWN STORY CAUSES ME TO ADVOCATE FOR NARRATIVES THAT ALLOW US TO HEAR THOSE WHO ARE DISENFRANCHISED AND ON THE FRINGE OF SOCIETY HAVE A VOICE AND SPEAK.

WHEN YOU MENTION ABOUT HEARING PEOPLE WHO ARE MOST VULNERABLE IN SOCIETY CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT SOME OF THE OUTREACH WORK YOU'VE BEEN DOING TO MAKE SURE THOSE VOICES ARE HEARD SFLUM.

ABOUT FIVE YEARS AGO THROUGH A GRANT FROM THE KELLOGG FOUNDATION I STARTED A PROGRAM CALLED I DREAM THAT USES THE TOOL OF THE ARTS TO HELP CREATE A NEW GENERATION OF SOCIAL JUSTICE LEADERS FROM OUR MOST VULNERABLE COMMUNITIES.

THE IDEA IS PERSONAL TRANSFORMATION IS A PATH TO SOCIAL TRANSFORMATION.

SO MANY OF US INCLUDING THE CHARACTER LANCE FROM MY FILM INHERITED TRAUMA FROM RACE INEQUITY.

HOW CAN WE GET CLEAR ABOUT THE TRAUMA WE INHERITED AND THEN USE THE TOOLS THROUGH CREATIVITY TO IMAGINE WHAT WE WANT FOR OURSELVES PERSONALLY AND OUR COMMUNITIES AND THEN ENGAGING SOCIAL JUSTICE PROJECTS TO START MAKING THAT NEW NARRATIVE REAL.

AND POSSIBLY MORE FILM MAKERS IN THE MAKING.

ABSOLUTELY.

SO, GOING BACK TO THE FILM, THOUGH, ONE OF THE THINGS THAT I THINK MAKES IT SO PERSONAL, AND AS WE MENTIONED ALREADY THAT LANCE VERY MUCH A THREE-DIMENSIONAL PERSON.

AND WE GET TO WATCH HIS JOURNEY WITHOUT GIVING AWAY THE ENDING BUT HE'S ABLE TO FIND JOY AND HAPPINESS AND PURPOSE IN HIS LIFE AGAIN.

HOW IMPORTANT IS IT FOR ANYONE COMING OUT OF PARTICULARLY PRISON WHERE YOU SORT OF HAVE BEEN THROWN AWAY, TO BE ABLE TO REDISCOVER THAT IN THEIRSELVES AND LIVES.

I'M GAD YOU SAW THAT.

AS THE ACTOR PLAYING PETROLEUM AND EVEN AS WE WERE WRITING IT THAT WAS THE JOURNEY.

RIGHT.

THIS MAN WHO COME OUT, HE'S AFRAID.

HE'S CONFUSED.

HE'S AFRAID TO HOPE.

AND THEN THROUGH HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH THE MAJOR CHARACTER --

AMAZING IN THE FILM.

AND A CHILDHOOD FRIEND WHO TURNED HIS LIFE AROUND SLOWLY ABLE TO TRUST.

IN THAT SPACE OF TRUST AND COMMUNITY SLOWLY ABLE TO HOPE AGAIN.

I THINK FOR A CHARACTER COMING OUT OF PRISON LITERALLY LIKE LANCE, US COMING OUT OF OUR OWN PRISONS OF THE VARIOUS THINGS THAT HAVE BEEN DIFFICULT IN OUR LIVES OR EVEN US AS A COUNTRY NOW IN THIS URGENT MOMENT, FINDING OUR PLACE TO HOPE EVEN IN THE MIDST OF FEAR AND IN THE MIDST OF CONFUSION IS WHAT WE MUST ABSOLUTELY DO BECAUSE IF WE DON'T HAVE HOPE, IF WE DON'T FIND SOME WAY TO MAINTAIN VISION OF POSSIBILITY EVEN IN THE MIDST OF BREAKDOWN THEN WE LOSE.

THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR TAKING THE TIME TO COME DOWN AND TELL BUS THE MOVIE.

WE'LL MAKE SURE AS MANY PEOPLE GET A CHANCE TO SEE THE FILM.

THANK YOU.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, The Peter G. Peterson and Joan Ganz Cooney Fund, Bernard and Denise Schwartz, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, The Ambrose Monell Foundation, Janet Prindle Seidler, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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