We had the good fortune of connecting with Bruklyn and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Bruklyn, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I have this theory that when people think of taking risks they immediately consider all of the bad things that can happen. When in reality, we all live with some level of risk every day. Nothing we do is 100% safe. If this year has taught me anything, it’s that nothing in this life will ensure you 100% security. You have to be uncomfortable to learn, to grow and get to where you want to be. I think knowing that makes it easier to take risks. You eventually learn that the worst thing you can be is be complacent with how things are going in your life. Change is necessary. Change is fulfilling. And to bring about that change, you have to take risks. With. me, I’ve always known the film industry is where I wanted to be. However, I struggled with fitting into everyone else’s expectations of who I am and what I’m going to do with my life. I fell into that belief that I had to play it safe because everyone else around me was doing that. Go to college, get a degree in something that will provide you with a stable job. That’s the status quo nowadays. I did exactly that and at the end of the day, I found myself dissatisfied with my life. While all of my friends were so ecstatic to be landing internships with businesses that could help with their careers, I found myself repulsed by the idea of having a 9-5 job. I found myself not giving it my all. I was just coasting by. I applied to New York Film Academy on a whim. I got accepted a week later and with only $2,500 in my pocket and not a lot of time to find a job or an apartment, I moved to Miami, Florida. It’s been hard and challenging. I’ve had to sleep on friend’s couches. I would go to school in the morning, work until night, sometimes I’d have to go on a film set and be up until 12 in the morning. Do it all over again. I was working so much, but I wouldn’t change my decision. That risk I took to go to film school and be in Miami brought me closer to my dream. I’m an award winning director because of that risk. I may not be where Spike Lee or Issa Rae are yet, but I’m making movies. I’ve met people who I call my family. I’m one step closer to where I want to be. Nobody looks amazing at the start of their journey unless they’re born into it. There is always going to be challenges in life. There’s always going to be hardship. At least when it comes to the risks, you know you’ll come out of it with a significant upgrade. The downside is almost nonexistent.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am a writer and director whose work focuses on the sociopolitical aspects of being black in America as well as the overlooked beauties of the black experience. The intensity, uncertainty, beauty and the magic that comes from the color of my skin echoes throughout my work. What probably separate me from other filmmakers are the themes I love to explore which are community, family, identity, double consciousness and stereotypes. My biggest influences comes from anime, coming of age dramas, the horror/thriller genre and Japanese/Korean films. If you combined Jordan Peele, Ari Aster, Studio Ghibli, Bong Joon-Ho, and Satashi Kon, you got a film by Bruklyn. I’m excited for these film projects I have in the works – they really embody the type of films I want to create and I can’t wait to bring them to life. My path to becoming a director was not easy. I’m from Durham, North Carolina and I’m a black woman. There were little to no opportunities for someone like me, especially with the industry I was trying to break into. I went the conventional route and attended Meredith College where I studied Mass Communication and Marketing. For some reason, in my 18 year old brain, that was the closest thing to film that I could get. While I attended, I was awarded some amazing opportunities. I’ve been a camera operator for the Durham Bulls. I’ve worked the 2017 BET Hip Hop Awards. I got my photography published in a magazine. However, it still just wasn’t enough. I wanted so much more. Eventually, something just clicked. And next thing I knew, I was in Miami Beach making short films and music videos with my friends. I think the biggest challenges I’ve faced was while I was in Miami, but the support system I have around me is what helped get me through those tough times. Just being able to have people to lean on, laugh with, and go to when your family is miles away makes every challenge you come across seem easy. If it wasn’t for Kobe Sipp constantly hyping up my first short film before it was ever written, I wouldn’t have submitted to Miami Film Festival Cinemaslam and we wouldn’t have won the grand prize a year later. If it wasn’t for Julia Basques and Thorn Daniels, those challenges that I faced would’ve seemed so unbeatable. If it wasn’t for Ronald Baez, Eddy Moon, Herschel Faber or Adam Coplan, I wouldn’t be aware of the things I can improve on as a writer and director. I wouldn’t be challenging myself to do better. I think the biggest lessons I’ve learned along the way are to take risks, always take time to appreciate what and who is around you, don’t be afraid to fail, don’t be afraid of criticism and just have fun. You aren’t living life if you aren’t having fun every step of the way.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’m not even gonna front: I am not a big going out type of person unless it involves being out in nature. I would suggest going to the beach late at night but they started kicking people out after 10. It was my favorite thing to do with friends after a really long day. We even had a life guard tower that we deemed our spot. South Pointe Park is a beautiful spot to hang out with friends as well. The skatepark in Miami is probably the best one I’ve seen. I haven’t been to many so that’s probably not saying much, but I stand by that statement. If you want to get a drink and play pool, Lost Weekend is a great bar in South Beach. The owner has let us film a couple of projects there and they’re dope people. It’s dope energy all around. Miami is just a beautiful city with limitless possibilities – there’s always something crazy happening.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
So many people have contributed to my story. For starters, Thorn Daniels, Julia Basques, Frantzy Moreau, Carl Olympio, Zoe Bell and Krissy Garconnette for always encouraging me, listening to my crazy ideas and just being incredible human beings. And of course, I have to shout out some of my professors at New York Film Academy – South Beach for passing on their knowledge and believing in me: Eddy Moon, Kevin Ondarza, Ronald Baez, Herschel Faber, Adam Coplan.