In a time where visibility and representation is crucial for the experiences of Blacks in America, being able to shape the narrative has been key in the development of the Maurice Keyes’ as a creator. If you are unaware of who this budding creative then you will be in for a treat.
Since the age of 9, Maurice has been curating stories that produced a reality that was not represented in television growing up. “I’m passionate about it because it feeds my creative soul. I also realized being in the filmmaking world more and more that there are not many black filmmakers given their due credit. I want to disrupt the status quo and show that I can’t be pigeon holed as black filmmaker” says Maurice. He took this passion and manifested a web series that we’ve all grown to love called Freedom Series.
Now if you’re a fan of the DC and Marvel superhero franchises and honestly even if you aren’t this is a series worth investing in. I spoke with the creator to learn more about what went into what we’ve grown to love about the Freedom Series. What I love about the series is that it takes the time to incorporate modern day hot topics such as race, sexual assault and put a spin so that it’s something you can watch and learn from.
The shows lead actor, Brandon Mellete, plays Malcolm Turner who is a victim of police brutality. In his encounter with the police, he’s injected with some concoction that ultimately alters his genetic make up equipping him with superpowers to stop things from happening such as police brutality, rape and other issues that plague us today.
This show gives a new meaning to what it means to be a superhero. Check out what Maurice had to say about Freedom the Series below.
How did you come up with Freedom Series?
I originally came up with this idea when there were no superheroes of color on screen and absolutely no superheroes who I could relate to or that was going through problems that I had gone through. I had been creating Freedom Series for 3 years before I put it out and back then there was no Luke Cages or Black Panthers on screen only in the comics. Even with comic books black superheroes were far and few between. I also watched the full “A Different World” series and realized that there were no new shows on tv that showed people of color in college and talked about the issues but was still entertaining.
From watching the Freedom Series, I noticed that you pulled a lot of the scenarios from real life events such as Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland and Tamir Rice. How did these events impact you?
All of these police brutality events affected me highly, especially as a black man. I’ve always created projects about social issues because I knew that people can empathize more when they see a situation played out as opposed to just reading it or hearing about it on the news. When Trayvon Martin was murdered I actually made a short film about the last 5 minutes of his life. It was very controversial at the time. A lot of negative comments were made about the film and people even went on to say that I deserved to die! But I also had people who commended me for telling his story and making a film that means something. Every episode is based off a real life event, except for episode two which is more symbolic. I wanted to showcase the exploitation of black woman by the hands of a white man, which has a lot of historical significance. I have always been very outspoken about the condition of POC in this country and I use my platform and content to give my opinion on how I see these tragedies.
What made you combine social justice issue and the superhero aspect together? Have you always been into comics?
I realized that people were too uncomfortable watching them because they were too real. So I wanted to make something that could still teach and educate people but was entertaining. That way people would watch it because they enjoyed the show but would be subconsciously getting all of the information I was presenting to them. Not just that, but also I was tired of watching black people being killed on video and people sharing it all over social media. It was emotionally exhausting and wanted to see a different ending to these stories. I have been into comics and superheros and super powers for my whole life. Freedom is definitely not the first superhero that I have created in my mind.
What superheroes inspired you growing up and how did you use that inspiration to create the character Malcolm Turner?
Superman, The X-men, Spider-Man, Batman, The Flash, The incredible Hulk, Static Shock these are some of my favorite superheroes who inspired me when I was growing up. I didn’t only focus on superheroes when I created Freedom though, I focused on heroes who didn’t have superpowers but still made a big impact and changed the world for us. People like Harriet Tubman, Nat Turner, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr, Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. DuBois, Booker T. Washington. I basically tried to blend all of these heroes into one person who could encompass all things these individuals represent.
What do you want people to get from this series?
I want kids to see this series and say “I want to be like Freedom when I grow up.” To show them that we too can be superheroes and save the world as long as we trust ourselves and our strength. I also want this show to make people think about our current condition and create a sense of hope. This is a superhero that is trying to save us. There are people doing that ground work through movements like Black Live Matter, so I would like to inspire others to do the same.
What’s next for the series? Are you filming another season or currently crowdfunding?
We are still in production for the 1st season. We want to have at least 8 episodes but no more than 12 episodes in total. We are also currently in preproduction for a Freedom short film that we will try to enter into some festivals. We are crowdfunding on gofundme.com/freedomseries trying to raise enough money so that we can complete season 1.
How do you hope your show impacts the entertainment industry and the way we view social issues such as race and police brutality?
I hope that after people see my show they can empathize with the victims in these terrible situations. I want to humanize these people, who have had their character dragged through the mud every time an event like this happens. I also hope that this makes other creators of color realize that they can create anything they want! It doesn’t have to all just be gangster stories in the projects about selling drugs and making money. Not to say that I don’t enjoy some of those series, even my first series “The Rise” was similar to that but it shouldn’t ONLY be that. We should be showing our youth that anything is possible and that all their ideas are valid.
Are you currently working on another project outside of the Freedom Series? What can we look forward to from you?
I am thinking about the whole universe that Freedom is part of and coming up with a full cast of heroes and villains. I am trying to create my own Marvel or DC universe where there numerous people who have super powers but live in a world that is very similar to ours. Most of the heroes are people that wouldn’t normally have powers. A young Native American woman, a disabled muslim teenager, an autistic dominican kid. I have a couple of ideas for the future! You are just going to have to wait and stay tuned in.
Check out the series on YouTube today!