We had the good fortune of connecting with Ama Houedjissi and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ama, how do you think about risk?
I think risk is a requirement, especially in the entertainment industry. Simply deciding to be in this industry felt like a risk, but one that I needed to take. I moved to Los Angeles in 2019 to pursue television writing. I didn’t have a job lined up, and didn’t know what would happen. What ensued was an unprecedented pandemic, unexpected solitude and time to write, and my first film. How could I have predicted that? What I learned was that with risk requires trust, and faith. That sometimes risk means disappointment, but other times, it’s the greatest reward. But, the most important part is that I did it myself. I think about the Toni Morrision quotation from Sula, “Yes, but my lonely is mine. Now your lonely is somebody else’s. Made by somebody else and handed to you. Ain’t that something? A secondhand lonely.” In this same vein, choosing to risk really meant betting on myself and taking responsibility for whatever happens. No matter the outcome, it was mine, made by me and that was important and took a lot of courage. Thankfully, it didn’t end in disappointment, it ended in reward. I achieved creative heights I had only daydreamed about. The risk paid off.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am a writer and image maker. I don’t mind the term filmmaker, but image maker is more accurate to me. Not every visual that I make will be a film, but it’ll always be a series of moving pictures. In our increasingly digital and visual society, I think it’s important to create images that reflect the kinds of things I want to see. In a macro way like, showing black women being fly and free, honest depictions of family dynamics, and creating worlds where black folks feel inspired and hopeful. And in a micro way, like showing how beautiful light reflected off a person’s collarbone is or the intricate lines and colors of an overhead shot of the city. I hope to show it all through my own unique perspective. My first film, entitled, Be Like Me, is the first step in this exploration. It follows two sisters, Angela (21) and Dina (16) as they are left home alone while their mother works the night shift as a nurse. Dina takes it upon herself to go on a “date” with an older man and Angela is determined stop her before things go too far. Creating the film was a mix of personal reflection and creative license and I was able to push my writing while playing around visually and creating images with the simple things around me. It was enlightening, fruitful, and fun. When it comes to my professional development, I am very much in the beginning stages. I feel like a teenager. I’m trying different aesthetics, angles, cameras- figuring out what I like and what I don’t. It’s exciting, and unknown. I’m dealing with challenges as they come and learning what it means to lead a creative project and how to navigate my art being work, as well as my outlet. I’m really excited for what the future holds for me.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Because quarantine started six weeks after I moved here, I’ve experienced a different version of LA. One of the best parts, however, was its rich and lush nature. Being able to take a walk on the trails has kept me sane. My favorite is Elysian Trail. I visited frequently at the beginning of quarantine; it was short and sweet. A harder one was the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook. That definitely broke a sweat, but was a great workout and the view was worth it. Food kept me sane too. K-Town has some of the best. My favorites are The Boiling Crab (the crab fries are delicious), the Potato Sack breakfast burrito, and the Chicken Katsu from Ono’s Hawiian BBQ; honorable mention to the empanadas and sliders from Escala on 6th Street. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Shout out Plumeria Productions, a collective started by myself and two friends, Nailah and Braden Hollis. They relocated to LA, their hometown, due to covid and that began our collaboration that turned into a film written and directed by me and two more projects this upcoming year. I couldn’t have done any of what I accomplished this past year without their support and creativity. Thank you!
Instagram: @plumeriaproductions , @amatheartist