Culture Spotlight Featuring Lamont Wilkins
Lamont was originally born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1977. The majority of his schooling, teenage and young adult life was spent in Woodbridge, VA where he graduated from Gar-Field High School in 1995. He grew up as a child without siblings to parents who both descended from Spartanburg, SC giving him a very southern upbringing and culture, built on politeness and character. He didn't do too much writing as a youth or in high school, but as he became more exposed to the trials and tribulations of life as he grew older, he found the need to have some sort of creative outlet for venting purposes and internal peace of mind.
In 2003, those very hardships started weighing heavily on him with the loss of his mom at the tender age of only 54. Within a three-year span after her death, he went on to lose aunts, uncles, one of his grandmothers, and then his dad in 2009 at age 64. Stricken with grief and a feeling of hopelessness, he had two options at that point. Succumb to going down the wrong path full of self-destruction and self-medicating, like he witnessed so many of his peers, friends, and family struggle with. Or find an outlet for venting purposes and internal peace of mind. Thus he learned to channel all of his pent-up emotions and grief into creating spoken word poetry that showcases his uncanny ability to take listeners on a roller-coaster ride of emotions, to say the least.
Soon thereafter, a DJ named B-Easy the DJ, from the rap entourage Fly America reached out to Lamont after hearing him spit his vocals on one of his pieces called Bitterness. Not only did he put Lamont on his upcoming mixtape entitled Let's Get It 5, but he was also the opening track feature! He was so impressed with Lamont's spoken word and smooth delivery, he was featured a second time on his upcoming mixtape in the fall of 2017 entitled What We Doin' 2. This time not only featuring Lamont again on the intro but also tracks #14 and# 22 as well.
Earlier that same year, Lamont went on to pen the first spoken word poetry movie, "The Call" which made it to the consideration phase of the HBO Short Film competition at the 21st Annual American Black Film Festival (ABFF), held at the Lowe's Hotel in Miami Beach, Florida. "The Call" also made it to the Artist Circle at the NOVA Film Festival in Alexandria, VA as well as the final review round at the Harlem International Film Festival in New York, NY.
Tragedy struck once again in November 2017 when Lamont’s cousin was killed by her boyfriend due to domestic violence. The next three months were spent coping with depression which sparked the creation of his next spoken word poetry film, “The Abused”, both as a coping mechanism & a form of creative self-medication. The film’s rather candid & disturbing viewpoint on domestic violence hit home with numerous credible film festivals across the country, racking up a total of thirteen awards to date including Best Social Commentary and Spoken Word awards in Las Vegas (Aug 2018), two more awards in Malibu (Oct 2018), Best Social Justice/Liberation/Protest, Experimental and Music Video awards in La Jolla (Nov 2018), and two Best Inspirational Film awards in both Los Angeles & Long Beach California (Jan. 2019).
April 2019 was another huge month for domestic violence awareness as “The Abused” took home an Honorable Mention Award for an Experimental Film at Top Shorts, the world’s leading online film festival. It was also recognized in Lamont’s home state of Virginia, taking home yet another Honorable Mention award from the Northern Virginia International Film & Music Festival & Capital Film Market, as well as the prestigious 2019 Audience Choice Award for Best Short Film at Richmond International Film & Music Festival in Richmond, VA.
Shortly thereafter, he was later invited to submit his work for the All Voices Film Festival, sponsored by Amazon Prime Video, which ultimately landed his work on the popular streaming service as well as being invited to the 2020 Oscars in Los Angeles, California.
Lamont also continues to write new storylines for the film festival circuit and his fan following, as well as continuing to share pieces of himself in an extremely deep and compelling way through his spoken word poetry. He gives a very honest and transparent glimpse inside his life albeit his frustrations, heartbreak, anger, and of course his fears as well, all in a very poetic and engaging format that showcases his storytelling ability. His passion to uplift and inspire others can even be read in his tagline, "Be Motivated So You Can Be Remembered”.
He is definitely one to watch.
Tell us about your experience at the Hip Hop Film Festival?
I made it as an Official Selection for my spoken word poetry film on domestic violence called "The Abused". While I would have absolutely LOVED to be in attendance at the event in August of last year, I wasn't able to make it out, unfortunately.
Why are stories from the culture important?
To put it frankly, our hip hop culture literally influences nearly every aspect of the world, albeit, art, fashion, and especially the sports & entertainment industry. Look at how our culture has bled into popular mainstream living rooms, influencing audiences on both prime-time and daytime TV. (i.e. hip-hop-infused TV show intros, commercials and half-time shows for both the NFL (especially the NFL Network) and NBA networks. You also hear our inspiring culture in other genres of music -- imitation is the highest form of flattery and yes....even when the credit isn't given back to us. It all goes to show one thing...there is NO bigger brand than the brand of Hip Hop in his purest form.
What projects are you working on now?
My next film is going to tackle the ever-elusive subject of mental health actually in all aspects. More specifically, I'm going to literally be taking the viewer through each stage of depression while telling tidbits of my own personal struggles with mental health as a whole. I'm also working on the behind-the-scenes branding component for my work as well.
Why do you think the Harlem Film House and Hip Hop Film Festival is important?
People need a platform to not only showcase their abilities but also to tell their stories. There's a reason Maya Angelou's phrase, "There's no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you", resonates with so many people in popularity. We as a people need a vehicle to be able to tell our story. One that not only gives us hope but is also based on the very essence of what makes us feel so alive. That in itself is Hip Hop at its core. We need festivals like this one to continue to provide voices to the voiceless and the platform to talk about something that somebody's been talking about for a long time but not being heard because of not having the proper stage. The Hip Hop Film Festival gives us that stage. "We Rock. We Don't Stop."