Culture Spotlight Featuring Juanita Ingram, Esq.
Juanita Ingram is an American licensed attorney, author, actress, producer, filmmaker, Founder/CEO of Purpose Productions Inc., an award-winning 501(c)3 production company.
Having produced previous award-winning short films, talk shows, and travel series; her most recent self-funded work is Season 2 of the award-winning and Emmy ® ballot eligible episodic program - The Expats International Ingrams - a docuseries that chronicles the international struggles and triumphs of a black Americans living abroad (www.expatsshow.com).
Utilizing an "edutainment" approach, the docuseries ushers in a new genre of "smart-reality TV", offering a positive, family-friendly, and immensely entertaining depiction of black expats, directly combating the distorted representation of the lives and reality of black people and black families.
"Being African-American and choosing to live abroad is always steeped in change and navigating through the unexpected, but today the racial and viral pandemics have placed the topic of living as an expat front and center; this series tackles tough and relatable issues in an educational yet entertaining way all while owning our narrative and breaking stereotypes while increasing a more inclusive representation of expats of color," says the show's Executive Producer and Creator, Juanita Ingram, Esq.
Tell us about your experience at the Hip Hop Film Festival. Attending the Hip Hop Film Festival for the second year was an incredible experience that surpassed our expectations. The festival provides an enriching environment where filmmakers and artists can exchange ideas, while celebrating the culture and influences of hip-hop. This festival always offers fresh perspectives and industry insights that you simply cannot get elsewhere. We are deeply honored to have received the award for Best TV Ready Series this year. This recognition not only validates the hard work of our entire team but also strengthens our commitment to storytelling that resonates with our audience. We're excited about the opportunities this accolade opens up for us, and we're looking forward to returning to the festival in future years. Thank you to everyone involved in making the Hip Hop Film Festival a remarkable event.
Why are “stories from the culture” worthy of a platform? “Stories from the culture” are not just worthy of a platform; they are essential. These narratives offer a nuanced lens through which to view the complexities of our experiences, joys, challenges, and triumphs. Far too often, mainstream media provides a monolithic perspective that fails to capture the richness and diversity of our communities. The Hip Hop Film Festival’s focus on honoring and highlighting the festival filmmakers, directors, and writers is a significant step toward redressing this imbalance. By spotlighting these talents, the festival helps to broaden the cultural conversation. It provides an authentic representation of life that extends beyond stereotypes and tropes, thereby enriching the larger diverse narrative. This inclusivity not only benefits Black creatives by giving them the recognition and opportunities they deserve, but it also educates audiences, irrespective of their background. When we honor these voices, we pave the way for a more understanding and empathetic society. That’s why it’s not just worthy to give these stories a platform, it’s absolutely necessary.
Why do you think the Harlem Film House and Hip Hop Film Festival are important? The Harlem Film House and Hip Hop Film Festival serve as critical platforms for Black creatives, like myself, in multiple ways. First and foremost, they offer a safe space where we can unapologetically tell our stories without the fear of misrepresentation or tokenization. These platforms celebrate the unique storytelling techniques and perspectives inherent to our culture, giving them the honor and attention they deserve. Moreover, the festivals facilitate an invaluable networking opportunity, allowing us to connect with like-minded individuals within the industry. These interactions are often the building blocks for future collaborations, partnerships, and mentorships, creating a thriving ecosystem for Black creatives to excel and find support. The importance of the Harlem Film House and Hip Hop Film Festival cannot be overstated. They not only contribute to the diversification of the film and entertainment industry but also empower Black artists to influence the narrative surrounding our culture, history, and future.
What projects are you working on now? Currently, I am deeply immersed in a compelling unscripted project titled "Beyond Beauty," a docuseries that delves into my transformative year as the first Black woman to win the title of Mrs. Universe and explores the lesser-known world of the "Mrs" genre of pageantry. As a storyteller, I've always sought to spotlight narratives that have been overlooked or misunderstood, and "Beyond Beauty" is a testament to that commitment.
This project has been a decade in the making, and I am thrilled to finally offer audiences an insider's view into a sphere that has seldom been depicted. What makes "Beyond Beauty" particularly unique is its multi-dimensional approach. Alongside the glitz and glamour, the docuseries addresses critical issues such as colorism, xenophobia, validation-seeking, sizism, and more. It narrates my journey through these complex landscapes, highlighting both the obstacles I've overcome and the resilience I've gained. At its core, "Beyond Beauty" is a story of finding purpose against all odds, and I am eager to share it with audiences eager to understand the depth and nuances of this fascinating world.