November 8, 1995
Web posted at: 11:30 a.m. EST
From Correspondent Janine Sharrell
NEW YORK (CNN) -- For many, breaking into Hollywood is about as easy as breaking into Fort Knox. That's a challenge compounded if you happen to be a woman, and further compounded for minorities.
For the director of "One Red Rose," making her first movie meant digging deep inside. "It comes from a need to express yourself creatively and knowing that you have a voice that's different from everybody else's," producer Charlie Jordan said.
Charlie Jordan's voice, along with the voices of many African-American women, is one that some say gets lost in the din of Hollywood filmmaking. After years of working for major studios, Jordan formed her own independent film company so she could tell her stories.
"We are seen as one lump and, if there is that African-American women's movie, it goes to Forrest Whitaker because there aren't enough of us out there that have made that break," Jordan said.
"One Red Rose," a 30-minute short film starring Victoria Rowell and Hill Harper, is a tender love story and a chilling tale of AIDS and the African-American woman. (824K QuickTime movie) It took Jordan and her partner, writer-producer Michelle Barnwell, more than three years to complete.
"From the beginning you have a vision and you have an idea and you put that on the page, but then every single word you wrote translates into dollars and cents," Barnwell said.
When the dollars for "One Red Rose" ran out, filmmaker Robert Townsend stepped in to help. At the film's Los Angeles premier, Townsend said the film was worth his support. "Hopefully out of this film there's some voices that are born that will make a difference in the cinema world," he said. (96K AIFF sound or 96K WAV sound)
The head of New York University's graduate film school, Christine Choy, says minorities and especially women still have a hard time making their cinematic mark. "You have to constantly demonstrate and prove that you are creative that you are intelligent. And it can be very frustrating and demeaning and humiliating," Choy said.
Other women in the film industry, like actress-producer T'Keyah Crystal Keymah, agree. "I think the industry is so difficult to break in," Keymah said. "There is definitely, in my opinion, an all-boys network and they don't take women seriously. Sometimes, they don't take black people seriously, so its very hard."
Jordan said she thinks the responsibility to tell good stories lies with African-American women. (112K AIFF sound or 112K WAV sound) And, if Jordan and Barnwell have their way, they will be telling good stories for a long time.
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