Monday, 10 January 2011
INTERVIEW WITH RAÈ EVELYN: THIS YOUNG SISTER IS AN EXAMPLE TO US ALL
Tell me a bit about yourself and what you have achieved in the last year or 2?
My name is Raè Evelyn, I’m 19 years old and last year I was at uni for a few months, but I didn’t enjoy the media course I was doing so I left and am now doing independent film-making projects. For the last 2 years + I have been working with the Octavia Foundation in Ladbroke Grove making films which have all been really successful. Grove Roots charted the history of Ladbroke Grove over the last 50 years. We followed that with Hidden Herstories- an hour long documentary looking at 4 unsung heroines; Octavia Hill, Claudia Jones, Amy Ashwood Garvey and Jayaben Desai. In the second film, I played more of a mentoring role, passing on the skills I learned during Grove Roots. Other skills I have developed include writing and debating, as I have written about feminism for a magazine, and led debates among young people on sexuality.
Was there a particular moment in time where you decided “I want to be a film-maker?”
At the Grove Roots premiere at the Electric Cinema. The audience reaction was amazing and it really made all the work worthwhile. Also at the premiere for Hidden Herstories at the LSE on International Women’s Day. Over 200 people packed out the hall and everyone seemed to take something from the film, which was a great reward for all the hard work. I also really enjoyed meeting some of the people we interviewed; Donald Hinds who knew Claudia Jones personally, and Marika Sherwood who started to cry during her interview, showed how powerful these stories were.
Why is film-making an important industry?
It’s a great medium to put across your ideas, and if its used in the right way, it can really educate and engage people; you can hear first hand stories, in an engaging and entertaining way.
Why is it important for young black women to learn about historical black female figures who haven’t had their place in the history books?
Its part of their history! It has a place in their own identity and sense of self. This stuff isnt taught in schools and its inspiring to hear these positive stories echoed on film. Its important to know your history, especially when its been hidden from you.
What was it like for you to come out to your family? Did everyone accept your sexuality?
My mum asked me, so I told her. She was a bit shocked at first but she said “as long as you’re happy, I’m happy”. In fact, the first person that I came out was my Nan! She said to me one day “Raè, are you gay?” and I just said “yeah” and she said “that’s OK, I still love you!”. Everyone was cool really, except 2 of my uncles, but I don’t really care cos they’re not parents.
What would you say to young black women reading this article who are gay but are afraid to come out to their friends and family?
Be yourself! Everyone will take it differently but you will definitely feel better to say it. Whoever don’t like it, aren’t down for you anyway, so you don’t need them in your life. When its family, it’s a bit harder, but more time everyone thinks it will be worse than it is. People are afraid to come out – I thought my mum would kill me- but she was cool. Its not gonna be as bad as you think.
What are your plans for this year and beyond?
I am planning to make my own documentary called “I Just Can’t Think Straight” about the history and struggles of lesbianism, and the different cultures within the gay female scene. We often hear about the male gay struggle, but very little has been done on the female side. Fingers crossed my application with the Heritage Lottery Fund is successful; they have supported other projects I have been on and these projects have really made an impact on my life by giving me a chance to really experience film-making. This has given me direction in life and am going to continue to use film to make a difference in the world.