Hollywood and Pop Culture are known for being visually and auditorily appealing, but there is no assurance of its accuracy in representing certain cultures and subcultures. Misrepresentation and cultural appropriation are particularly prevalent concerns that can be remedied by hiring people who have actual, first-hand experience in leadership positions in production. It is why Baby Gangsta: The Movie, produced by Damond Collier, stands out from the rest of the movies ‘depicting’ hood culture.
Damond Collier is a man who graduated from the clutches of the hood culture and the exhausting cycle of a life in crime. As a former inmate, he attributes his reform to the empowerment he received from Unity One, a program dedicated to establishing self-esteem, mental stability, self-sufficiency, and pride in community relations. The program was pioneered by the late Darren “Bo” Taylor.
Pete Carroll, a world-famous NFL coach and the founder of A Better LA, a non-profit organization dedicated to facilitating community-based solutions to prevent gangs and promote peace, also played a huge role in mentoring Collier. Carroll was instrumental in Damond Collier’s evolution to a reformed man and mentor to others that found themselves in a similar situation. “He inspired me to believe in myself, be bigger than my environment, and change my mindset,” Collier says regarding the coach, and inspired by this method, he empowers his mentees in the same way.
Today, Damond Collier has made the most out of the opportunities in life that Unity One had provided him. From ‘former gang member,’ his labels are now director, writer, filmmaker, philanthropist, and founder of his own community-based program, Pride in Unity. He could have chosen to be anything in his new chapter of life after conviction, but instead, he decided to go back to his roots and help others take control over their lives as well.
The producer is exceptionally passionate about helping ex-gang members get back on their feet by providing opportunities for them to build generational wealth through ownership and equity. Mainly, this is through the films they help produce, one of which is Baby Gangsta: The Movie.
With such a large percentage of their production staff having the first-hand experience of the reality of life in the hood, this film is arguably one that most accurately reflects what life is like for those living in underserved communities. Given the success seen by the release of the full-length feature film, Damond Collier and his team have moved on to the pre-production of their next movie, with details yet to be announced.
Baby Gangsta: The Movie started as the seedling of a dream. Watered by a vision and the dedication to provide creative opportunities, bridge gaps, and bring hope for people struggling to overcome systemic inequalities, it bloomed and bore fruit in the form of the success it has achieved. It now mirrors the producer’s former life on the streets and the reality underlying what is seen from the outside.
Learn more about Pride in Unity and Damond Collier by visiting his website.