Recently, a long time dream of mine finally became a reality: My film, “Millie and the Lords”, was finally completed. This film took years of hard work to put together, and I am so incredibly happy that it has finally been made!
I started this project over ten years ago, when I had recently graduated from college. I was working part time as an assistant at the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College. It was here that I discovered the history of the Young Lords Party. This was a revolutionary group that fought for the civil rights of Puerto Ricans during the 60′s and 70′s. I had never heard of the Young Lords or about their contributions to our community. I thought to myself, this is an important part of our history, something to be proud of, and yet not a whole lot of people know about them. I need to find a way to tell their story to the world! I wanted people from my generation and those even younger than me to know about this part of their history. We don’t see a lot of positive stories about ourselves in the media- only negative things. So I wanted to make a film that spoke to my generation, a film that would make them proud of who they are and inspire them to live life to the fullest!
Over the next few years, I began writing the script, interviewing Young Lords members, and continuing my research about them. It took many drafts of the script before it was ready. After that, we had to raise the money to produce it! That was hard and it took us a long time. But we finally did it and the result is a beautiful, inspiring film that I am proud of. The film not only honors the legacy of the Young Lords, but it also inspires young latinos to make their voices heard and to inspire change in their communities. I was so blessed with the actors that we cast for this project. They were all so talented and I was thankful that they were willing to be a part of this project with a first time director.
When you have a dream or a goal, you really have to stay focused and determined, no matter what.
You will almost always face obstacles and challenges, people who will try and pull you down or destroy your dreams. But I stayed committed to the project and I was determined to see it thru to the end. I knew that this film would touch peoples hearts, inspire young latinos, and tell an important story. And I was right. At the screenings we have had so far, we are getting such positive feedback. People who were alive during the time of the Young Lords remembered them and were so happy to see them in the film. Young people come up to me thanking me for sharing this part of their history that they never knew about. Kids dealing with homophobia and gang violence and racism tell me how moving the film is. Schools are asking me to screen this film for their classes. These things give me strength to keep on doing what I am doing- knowing that I am making a difference in the lives of others thru my art.
I hope that many of the friends and colleagues that I have met thru the RL workshops will be moved and inspired by the film as well. The BWS was such a special time and it really encouraged me to go after my dreams and not give up- we all have something to contribute, in our own way. I am thankful for the people and experiences I have had as a result of being a part of R.Evolución Latina.
Learn more about the film www.millieandthelords.com
*** Jennica Carmona was a Beyond Workshop Series student in 2012 & 2013 and was part of the cast of the NYC premier workshop of Amigo Duende, The Musical.