A young heroine of a new series is taking a stand against gentrification, racism and more, all while having special abilities!
According to its official description, “Little Apple is a contemporary coming of age story about a young Harlem girl finding her voice in a society that often silences women and people of color. The first season features 6 episodes exploring themes of: gentrification, the erasure of Native Peoples, Black feminism, microaggressions, Black Girl Magic and more."
The series, a finalist for the 2016 Sundance Institute YouTube New Voices Lab, is the product of a Kickstater campaign. Little Apple is also a comic book, podcast and upcoming Summit, which will be sponsored in part with Samsung.
The series stars Milan Williams as Little Apple, who “goes from informing new tenants about gentrification to confronting her classmate about his white and male privilege. As if her wokeness is not enough, Apple must also grapple with new special abilities and supernatural enemies." It is executive produced by Harlem residents Riley S. Wilson and Lisa Cortés
All episodes were filmed on location in Harlem, the comic book features ads purchased by Harlem companies and more than half of the cast and crew were Harlem residents. The producers of Little Apple are currently in negotiations with potential partners for distribution.
Wilson spoke to Shadow and Act about the upcoming series.
S&A: What is the meaning behind having the series set in Harlem?
Wilson: What's been happening in Harlem is somewhat of a microcosm of what's been happening all over the country. Cities, neighborhoods, communities, people are debating their identity. Harlem is encountering the same debate; the community is in flux and so is Little Apple.
As Apple's abilities develop, she too is faced with a dilemma: do I use my powers to defend and speak up for those whose voices have been taken or ignored or do I give in to complicity? Both Harlem and Apple are going through some very interesting times at the moment, a transition, a conflict. It just made sense for the series to follow them both.
S&A: Why do you think the industry has been struggling with diverse representation in front of the camera and behind-the-scenes?
Wilson: The entertainment industry is no different than any other industry in this capitalistic society, and the main issue is that the ecosystem was created and nurtured with the active intent to exclude people of color. We've seen it in the housing market; we've seen it in the C-suite at corporations, and we're even now seeing it in the legalized cannabis market. The entertainment industry has followed the same guiding forces as everything else. Things are changing though. By hook or by crook.
S&A: What do you hope viewers gain from Little Apple?
I hope viewers are empowered to speak truth to power, to move against complicity and to understand that it is possible (and somewhat imperative) to engage with youth about what's happening around the country. I understand Little Apple is fiction and that we all live in the real world, but I hope viewers of the show recognize the necessity of having these racial and social justice conversations. Systems of oppression and their residual effects, whether racism, patriarchy or just microaggressions, have no age limit.
Wilson: Thinking about what's next, what is your greatest ambition/goal for the series?
My greatest ambition for the series is to empower a generation of youth who are unafraid to speak truth to power, who believe in unlimited imaginative possibilities, and who dare to make their communities a better and safer place for all.