Where we are, Where we are going

Hey friends, so it has been awhile since we’ve been present – close to two months now, and I want to apologize for being so M.I.A. So, please, let me explain what’s been happening, where we’re at now and where we’re going.

What Happened:

As the team entered winter break, we thought it’d be the perfect time for us to begin the process for our film, which we had planned to be shoot in January and screen in March. However, we realized that we were hitting too many obstacles along the way and took that as a sign that maybe this wasn’t the right time.

And it wasn’t.

So, we have decided to pull the plug on the “This Is Me” Film Project. At least, for now. It may be an option to revisit later down the road.

Note: The money we raised from our supporters will be donated to a local non-profit organization. 

If I’m being quite honest, this decision has been a relief because now we can really focus on revitalizing #TIM and continue to discover and publish more stories of real people! Which brings us too…

Where We Are Now:

Sylvana and I are back in school and preparing to graduate in May, which is exciting as it is nerve-wracking! We both have internships, classes and work, so while this may slow the progress we want to see with the project, this will not stop it! We love #TIM and we want this to be powerful – a movement, if possible.

Since we’re in school, we’re in a space of so many students who faces struggles that they never get the chance to discuss and share with the world around them, and we want to do that. We want to be their platform. We’ve gained recognition for what we’ve done so far, which we are extremely grateful for, but we want to do more

So, as part of this revitalization, I want to undertake the task of reaching out to my local community for people who may be interested in being a part of the project. I want to meet more people and hear more stories. I want their stories to affect yours and cause positive change. Pulling the plug on the film project has given me relief because now I feel like I can go back to the roots of why I wanted to do this project; to make a difference.

Where We Are Going:

I honestly have no idea what’s next in store for us. I’d like to think Sylvana and I will continue this project, and I think we will because we have both discussed how much we care about this and its message. I can’t speak for her, of course, but I will say that I hope she stays with me because she has been the biggest help throughout this process. Without her, much of this would not exist. But, even if she weren’t to stay, I want to continue this for her as well. I want to continue this for you and I want to continue this for me.

In terms of the next step, I’ve made a little list of what I want to do.

  • I want to produce more content on the photo series.
  • I want to utilize the blog more and actually blog about topics related to the stories.
  • I want to begin compiling video interviews into a short documentary-style video (this is a personal project that I want to complete by the end of summer)
  • I want to create short videos of each interview to correspond with their respective posts!
  • I want to look into turning this into non-profit OR align with non-profits to make more of an impact on both my local community and hopefully you
  • I want #ThisIsMe to become a movement.

I know that some of these goals may seem crazy, but if people aren’t laughing at your dreams, then they’re not big enough!

I want to take this moment to thank every single one of you who has supported this project since its inception and thank you for sticking with us. You have no idea how much it means to me to have this much support. I love you, so very much and I am so excited to see where this new adventure takes us!

We’ll try to have some more content as soon as possible!

Peace, self-love and happiness

– Jordan Daniels

ThisIsMe Creator

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Challenging the Status Quo

Megan Kimberling is a Plus Model and all-around badass. There are no words that can amount to how she excels at being unapologetically herself. We met her randomly in Venice Beach one day while she was doing a shoot. At the point in time, the project was still just an idea and it’s a bit of a full-circle moment seeing her be a part of it as well as support it so much. Here’s part of her story about how she’s come to be comfortable in her own, flawless, skin.

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The first thing I wanted to be growing up was a rodeo queen and I always knew that if I wanted to be that, I had to be skinny. It came from my community saying that if I wanted to be the pretty person, I had to be skinny.

Skinny was pretty. Thin was pretty and I was always told that I did this or that, that I’d be prettier

I was always made to feel that I could be prettier

I spent a lot of years internalizing those comments about my weight and what I looked like.

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Nothing in my life had changed because of what I weigh.

It was the moment where I thought, ‘Oh, obviously my weight does not dictate my life.’

People spend a lot of time just fighting for the ability to be themselves.

You have two pieces of society; one piece telling children you need to be yourself. You are talented and you need to embrace your individuality. But on the flip side, it is also telling you that you need to adhere to certain standards and do things by the book.

So, for people to actually find a place in life where they can actually be themselves and be an individual, is really important.

Check out more of Megan on her website here and her Instagram page here

Black Girl Magic

If we had to capture our time with SaQuoira into one word, we’d choose “powerful.” SaQuoira gave us a wonderful insight of the effects of colorism in society and how she feels so empowered now for being a strong black woman. We love you, adore you and are inspired by you.

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Growing up, I remember this, I would pick dandelions from my backyard and wish on them that I would get green eyes, dirty blonde hair and tan skin. That’s all I saw, that’s what I identified as beautiful. I felt that being lighter would be more beautiful…

You never saw empowered black women on TV. They always had a lot of attitude, they were either dirty, poor or uneducated. No one in TV, movies or magazines wanted the black woman.

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We’ve come a a long way with representation and we still have far to go.

But people are being recognized and we’re really getting to a point where we’re not made to feel ashamed for the color of our skin.

I love being dark because I see people like Lupita Nyong’o who are just absolutely gorgeous. It makes me love myself for who I am. I feel so empowered when I look at myself – I’m strong, educated, a mother.

Breaking up with labels

Thank you to our new friend Christian, who saw the project on Instagram and wanted to be a part of it. It feels amazing to know out project is reaching people and we were so honored to tell just a little bit of your story! Remember how worthy and amazing you are!

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The intersection of machismo, masculinity and sexuality is a bunch of different factors at once. You’re trying to be yourself in a world that tells that you can’t because you’re living up to some standard…

I hate being labeled because it divides us so much. I think it’s ridiculous, these boxes and categories should not define us.

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Can I just live in the body and the skin that I have? I categorize myself. I categorize as myself, as a human being.

I’ve overcome a lot of adversity just to be myself and I think that’s brave. I’m brave.

“Taking ownership of myself…”

Our shoot with Chelsea radiated so much love. Chelsea is truly an inspiration in owning one’s womanhood and sexuality. She’s all about breaking stereotypes and staying true to who you are. Thank you for giving us a little perspective from the Latinx community!

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… My beauty and my self worth is only defined by my being hyper-sexualized because I’m a latina woman…

That my being “curvy” and being voluptuous somehow dictates my worth and place in society.

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I am a multi-dimensional being. I am a creative mind. I am a survivor of domestic violence. I am a voice of body positivity.

My ethnicity does not get defined by unreleastic standards perpetuated by society. This is me taking ownership of myself.

More than Enough

It’s always amazing reconnecting with old friends and we were so honored that this friend wanted to be a part of our project. Lizzie, your achievements have been amazing- 4 degrees?! Thank you for offering a glimpse into your journey in learning that you are enough.

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When I was younger, friends would tell me that I would look so much better with makeup.

I should be comfortable just waking up and going to class without makeup… but I don’t.

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I try to please everyone, to be who everyone wants me to be. To be perfect. But I’m tired of being that. I’m self-sufficient, I have four degrees in school, I pay for my own things, I’m independent.

I should be enough for myself.

Small But Fierce

We had the opportunity to shoot Chris a while back as he went through Kung Fu sequences. It’s stunning to capture someone when they’re truly just being them. Thank you Chris for letting us shoot you and for volunteering to be a part of this project.

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Small and Insignificant.

It makes me feel like I’m not good enough or worthy of someone else or what they’re looking for.

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Maybe I am small. But I realize that it’s a strength because it really builds and heightens the better and more important things of myself.

Return to who you are rather than strive to be anyone else.