The Strength of a Film Director
Tell us about yourself. What do you do? Why are you passionate about it?
Hi my name is Chelsea Odufu, I am a filmmaker and art activist and I am passionate about regenerating positive imagery of African Diaporian people on screen in order to empower and enlighten Black and Brown people.
Where do you live? How long have you lived there?
I was born and raised in Newark NJ aka Brick City. I've lived there my entire life. Growing up in a city like Newark Nj known for its crime and poverty always humbled me. It motivated me to not be a product of my circumstance. The fact that there are only three people on my street that graduated from college including my brother and I tells me that the work I do is neccesary.
What did you study? When did you know that you wanted to be a filmmaker?
I studied film and Television at New York University Tisch School of the arts but I knew I wanted to pursue film since I was about 14 years old. I was always super involved in art programs and study abroad programs as a teenager but it wasnt until my 2nd year of college where I truly came into myself as a filmmaker and found my voice.
What are the words you live by?
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
What are the first 3 things you want someone to know about you?
That I am Guyanese and Nigerian, a filmmaker, and that I'm a Brick city princess.
What are your inspirations? What motivates you?
I am honestly most inspired by myself. Watching myself bring ideas in my head to fruition or seeing myself accomplish things I only dreamed of doing is what keeps me going. My understanding that progress has actually been made by the steps I previously took allows me to be own self motivator.
What would you say to your younger self?
I would tell my younger self to never allow others to SHRINK my Spirit! So often I used to find myself truly worried about what other's thought of me but I am the point where I am living for my own personal happiness. I am content in not compromising who I am for others.
What would you say to a young person who wants to move to a brand new city to pursue their dreams?
I would tell them to have a solid product before they move to a brand new city. A product that they can market, pitch, and potentially make money off of. Far to often we expect people to help make our careers with nothing concrete to offer them, have your ducks truly in a row plus more if you want to create a buzz for yourself in a new city.
What do you tell yourself to keep yourself going every day?
I tell myself that in the spirit world I already MADE it and that I am just waiting for the physical world to catch up.
How do you see your story being told?/How do you want others to see you?
I want other's to see me as someone who always puts in work, and always grinds to achieve my dreams, but who is also someone who takes a keen interest in encouraging and supporting the growth of others.
What influences your work?
The urge to heal from my past experiences influences the root of my stories.
We already know that you're a Fanm Djanm. In your own words, tell us why you're a Fanm Djanm.
I am a Fanm Djanm because I am a natural Girl Boss. I am leader and healer and I have the mental and emotional space to take on the weight of the world to better serve my people artistically.
What is the most important thing to you as a woman?
The most important thing to me as a woman is to never compromise my voice, my body, or my own integrity for others.