When it comes to my love for the arts in the African Diaspora, it’s hard to find that quality of representation in the film and television industry, and changing the way African-Americans are portrayed on screen.
I had the opportunity to discover an “aid” to that change…Evita Castine. A Director, Writer and Actress. Ms. Castine has already made an impact in changing the way we view one of the third largest criminal industries in the world and changing the female narrative in media. Castine has already received several awards for her short film “Only Light” including the “Audience” Award for the Diversity Showcase at this past Cannes Film Festival.
Nycole Hutchens: First off, I want to say congratulations! How has the journey been so far for you with your new project? We are seeing you everywhere now (lol)
Evita Castine: Thank you so much. The Journey so far has been amazing. There is a reason you make a movie, so to go through the ups and downs of production and then having people watch it, it’s really exciting to have that part you know? To have the audience watching it.
N.H: Let’s talk a bit more about your project “Only Light”. Can you share with us about the film and the inspiration behind it?
E.C: “Only Light” is a short film, it is a drama about a young woman who is kidnapped from the Democratic of Republic from the Congo and sold into the sex-trade industry in Los Angeles. As she escapes her imprisonment through her dream by watching an American girl that lives next door that is the same age as her. So there are elements of magical “realism” and goes between reality and the mind.
N.H: Those seem to be some really interesting Elements. Why was it important to do this particular film?
E.C: Ever since I was a young girl I’d always be reading about issues happening in Africa and I’ve always been interested in why genocide happened and why human-trafficking happened especially there. I was sent this script about human-trafficking at the University of Southern California and I wanted to tell it because I felt that it was an important story to tell. A lot of people don’t know about issues happening in Africa, especially issues pertaining to young women. I always felt that my mission in life was to tell those types of stories. It was a no brainer for me when I was approached with this script and something I felt was really important.
N.H: What were the most shocking things that you discovered about Human-trafficking when you worked on this project?
E.C: There were many shocking things that I discovered. The biggest thing I was having a hard time wrapping my head around was that slavery and prostitution is when I realized that slavery (how it keeps going) is by controlling someone’s mind. So even the young ladies you might see on Westin and Slauson (St.). You might think oh she chose this profession. It’s not something that people choose, the average age a young girl is indoctrinated into it is 13 years old. It’s usually just people seeking attachment with other people. There’s a whole grooming process which eventually leads into prostitution then their stuck. I also learned that human-trafficking is the third largest criminal industry in the entire world after drugs and gun trafficking. That was scary to me.
N.H: Would you say there are many misconceptions about this subject?
EC: The biggest misconception is only certain people buy sex. That’s not true. You can’t just look at someone and think, “oh they would, or would never do that”. The truth is that most of these girls are under age. So that is the biggest misconception is that they’re adult women and not young women, and that only certain people buy sex.
N.H: Considering a large population are still unknown to this criminal industry, What will it take to put an end to Sex-trafficking?
EC: I think awareness is a huge factor, that’s why the title of this film is “Only Light” it was inspired from a Martin Luther King quote. Creating work of art that creates awareness is huge. Most people think that prostitution exists only in street brothels . I say all this to say that people should develop strong relationships with young people , try to have a connection with them because young people get lost. Knowing what is going on around you. I think it is good to ask a child is everything ok? A lot of people don’t get involved.
N.H: It is definitely about awareness, I’m just happy we had the opportunity to add to that momentum of shedding light on this film and it’s subject matter with our readers. In addition to your Directing endeavors, you also Act and Write, is there one skill your more passionate about then the other?
EC: I’m really not more passionate about one thing over another because I choose everything for each other. The core of it. There’s this story that you want to tell and I just try to find different ways to express things and how I feel. I love photography. I love telling stories about black people and I love creating new images about black people that aren’t what we normally see, especially women. You normally see us as hyper-sexualized, I do think that sexuality is part of the human experience , but with me being a woman myself I like to find different ways to show that.
N.H: It’s interesting that you bring that up, because that is still an issue we deal with in Hollywood, when it comes to how Black women are portrayed. I think it it’s amazing that you are helping to bring about change with the female narrative.
EC.: It is so true, especially with you helping bring awareness with this project to your readers. All of this will help to change the female narrative.
N.H: Let’s move on to a lighter side (lol). Talk about your award you received in Cannes for “Only Light”.
EC: We received the “Audience Award” for the Diversity Showcase that happens every year showcasing many short films across the world. So people voted after watching the film and chose which one they liked the best, and we were selected. It was really exciting because we also one the “Audience Award” at the One Lens Film Festival. The reason why it is so exciting to me is because that when people vote for this movie it shows that people are receptive of a different narrative. When I was making it there were all kinds of comments about what I was doing. To know that people understand it and voted for it is just amazing.
N.H: What’s next for Evita Castine?
EC: I’m developing this web-series, it’s a compilation of many different relationships happening in Los Angeles. I shot two episodes already, one of them is about a coach and actress. I’m just going to keep going in that direction, as a single woman in Los Angeles you go through all this crazy stuff and all this emotional ups and downs, I just want to further express it in that way.