Arts & Style

Minorities use the Web to adjust the color on TV

By DeNeen L. Brown
Sunday, November 15, 2009

A black superwoman appears on your laptop in shimmering blue tights, green socks and a midnight blue cape. Her hair in Afro puffs, she is sitting on a promenade bench. She looks worried and a bit worn out. Her makeup is smeared, probably from crying.

She tells us she has just caught her boyfriend with a "second-rate superhero." The nerve of him.

The woman, who identifies herself as Fantastica, climbs a railing on a ledge several stories aboveground.

She holds tight to the rail behind her, breathes deeply, then announces dramatically: "Death over dishonor." And lets go.

You shout at your computer: Girl, don't go out like that over a man.

The camera shifts. You see her falling, slo-mo.

The screen goes black, and already you are hooked to this webisode series "Chick." You haven't yet decided whether you like the character, but you identify with her -- that torment of being on a ledge, fuming. You want to know what happens next.

An agitated voice-over explains: "Have you ever thought you were meant to be someone great like a superhero?"

Los Angeles actress Kai Soremekun created the black superwoman series, but decided not to shop the screenplay to any cable channels or networks. Instead she persuaded friends to shoot and produce the low-budget series gratis.

When it was done, Soremekun posted the "Chick" trailer on Facebook and the miniseries was picked up by Rowdy Orbit, a Web-based network for "culturally relevant" short films created by minorities.

In one superwoman leap, Soremekun skipped even trying to shop the series to a broadcast or cable television studio.

The Web gave her the freedom to fly creatively, she says. How many black female superheroes are on television now? How many black women are writing their own scripts, controlling their own stories, weaving in metaphors about black women in real life who need to be superheroes just to survive?

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