Creating a Distinct Yet Universal World
Creating art is a personal endeavor. The motivations behind the format, the design, and the tone are always contained within the heart of the artist. In the world of writing, this can be translated to ‘write what you know,’ but in reality there are many layers that represent what we are connected to. For Eboni Sade, this transformed into the topic for a series titled Let Nina Prosper, in which she not only wrote about what she knew, but about what she wanted to see.
The initial idea was born from a short film about a minority queer couple living in a city as they traverse the complicated avenues of life, love, and friendship. Instead of expanding the idea into a long-form story, Sade decided to break it down using a web-series format, spending ample time examining difficult yet important issues in each episode.
“I’ve always yearned for seeing more Black women in love with each other on screen. Nina and Laila’s relationship was created from that feeling,” Sade adds.
The show, however, isn’t just about issues that we face but it’s the unmistakable differences that connect us to each other. Sade is able to find a way to present the situations that Laila, her partner, and/or her friends face in a way that is unique to her individual voice but also transcends a universal tone. Even if she set out to make a particular piece of art that spoke to her, Let Nina Prosper opens up a world to others in an unexpected way.
“I think the accessibility of the characters in the show mirror my voice as a storyteller and ultimately connect to viewers. Even if you’re not a woman of color or a part of the LGBTQIA+ community, there are commonalities between the characters on the show and in life,” Sade explains. ”The ’approaching 30s blues’ and trying to figure out the trajectory of your career, dealing with sibling tensions, finding a safe space within the confines of your circle of friends – feels relatable.”
This aspect sounds as if it would be an easy quality to achieve when creating from your heart, but it doesn’t happen as often as audiences would like. While there is nothing wrong with a singular voice, the way Sade was able to open up the series to include everyone in the discussion was beautiful. The topics that are addressed are not light, and while they are dealt with through vulnerability they are not depreciated. Our culture is in need of a tempered voice to help the revolution, yet it’s also not fair to place that on Sade and Let Nina Prosper.
“I wanted to create a show about queer Black women who loved, and laughed, and found joy in their lives by defining themselves for themselves. Each character is who they are absent of the current administration or politics,” Sade explains. “Equal rights for undeserved communities is something that the lead character, Nina, strives for each day. In episode 3, ‘I’m A Creative,’ Nina goes into a monologue about equal and affordable healthcare, safe havens for the trans community, and equal pay for women. That’s the future that Nina and ultimately, the show, seeks. It’s a world where the playing fields are leveled.”
The brevity of each episode also doesn’t deter from the importance of the topics that are being addressed. In fact, the short format allows for the conversation to continue to grow outside the world of production. "While the episodes don’t necessarily ‘solve’ each issue, it creates continued dialogue within communities,” Sade says. The specific format decisions were strategic and vital for the project to blossom into what Sade envisioned. Sufficient time is carved out for the variety of points dependent on what topics deserved a bit more introspective time, like intersectionality and identity. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what the course of action the pre-production phase took, the outcome was a well presented commencement to opening up dialogue among the audience.
“I think no matter how a viewer identifies, they can relate to a topic within the series: going for a raise you rightfully deserve, trying to find your footing in your career, relationship issues,” Sade adds. “My goal was to make the series relatable. Here’s a series about queer women of color who are just trying to figure it all out.”
This is just the start for Sade, as her involvement with Season 2 has begun as Season 1 on Let Nina Prosper has ended. Her goal is to continue the conversation, allowing for the world she’s created to continue to influence for a greater good in the entertainment world. Her goal is to create a space for her unique voice to strive, and that is exactly what our culture needs. The queer perspective is busting at the seams to make their mark, and we are lucky to have Eboni Sade leading the way.
You can find the full season of Let Nina Prosper on Vimeo.
Written by Lisa Mejia
Images provided by Eboni Sade