We had the good fortune of connecting with Nana Adwoa Frimpong and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nana Adwoa, why did you pursue a creative career?
I’ve always thought of my decision to pursue filmmaking as an answering to a call or a surrendering to a vocation. I’m a storyteller at heart, and feel the most at home with a good book, watching a movie, or listening to my friend’s story.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Film is the medium I choose to work in, but the process feels very spiritual to me. I don’t take for granted that images have the power to change the way a person perceives themselves. My filmmaking journey started when I applied to USC film school and wrote my first script on a Microsoft Word document. I spent four months in my childhood bedroom writing that application and answered questions about the types of worlds I wanted to create in the movies I made. Up until that point, I had only made one film in earnest. Nothing about that time was easy and I felt isolated for quite a bit of it. What was truly powerful about that time, however, is that it forced me to get clear on my intention for pursuing film in the first place. I’ve always gravitated towards stories that center women and girls. Part of my interest comes from being a woman, but an even deeper part comes from recognizing that we don’t have enough mainstream film and television that honors the complexities of our stories. The first film I made in film school was about the barrage of voices that as a woman-identifying person you hear all the time – things about your body, skin, ability, and worth. I followed that film up with a dramatic piece about a young woman who gets a full body wax after being ridiculed for her body hair. This fall, I’ll be directing a documentary on how Black women heal through art, exploring how we translate our stories into the things we create. I’ve never met a woman who has everything figured out and yet we are constantly being bombarded with images of women who’ve achieved some fictional idea of “balance.” I want to make films that explore the specificity of who a woman is in the name of truth – a truth that is oftentimes messy, complicated, and never one thing. My friend and creative partner, McKenzi Vanderberg and I, are on a journey to tell these stories and support other women-identifying people doing the same work.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Skylight Books. Santa Monica Pier. The California African American Museum!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
All the flowers go out to my parents and sisters first and foremost. They are the foundation in which everything else sprouts. They taught me about God, about hope, and what it looks like to build something out of nothing. Each time I take a step that feels scary, I think about the many more they’ve taken on my behalf. Next are the many people who have helped me along my journey and believed in me when I didn’t know how to do that for myself. Those friends, mentors, relatives, and chosen family are all part of my story. I’m a collector of words, and at various points, each one of those people’s songs, poems, and notes have sustained me.