REVIEW: Michael Pinckney’s “THE TRADE” Sheds Light on Human Trafficking
Photo Credit: S & A

REVIEW: Michael Pinckney’s “THE TRADE” Sheds Light on Human Trafficking


There are innumerable statistics on the sex trade industry

and its impact not only on the lives of mostly young and destitute women, but

also the communities – mostly poor ones – that it impacts. Yet among the most

harrowing, especially in its invisibility of victims, is human trafficking.

Filmmaker Michael Pinckney, affectionately known as ‘Boogie’ to

most, aims to tell the stories of these victims in “The Trade,” a new

television pilot he is shopping around to the networks and cable television

through his production company Black Noise Media. 

The pilot itself is as dark as its subject matter, focusing

specifically on child trafficking.

The main story follows Dalton (Dan O’Brien), a photojournalist

trying to find his daughter who he suspects has been forced into

prostitution.  Upon his arrival to Brooklyn’s

Coney Island, an area that, at least according to this story, is rife with sex

trade activity, Dalton meets Baby Girl, an African-American teen prostitute

being pimped out by the menacing yet flamboyant Tyson (Tobias Truvillon, “The

Tested”).  Baby Girl may indeed be his

best source in finding his daughter. Meanwhile, Russian sex traffickers are

rounding up yet another batch of young women of various races to force out on

the street to make them money. 


The feel of the entire pilot presentation is rightfully

eerie.  Pinckney does an admirable

job in creating a foreboding visual tone complete with high production

values.  While parts of the script are

a bit trite, what the director gets out of his actors and environments is


The standout is newcomer Prentiss Marquis, who as Baby Girl

says more with just a look and some seemingly (but obviously not) simple body

language than some better known actors evoke in a ten-year career.  Truvillon also stands out early, as does

Shukura as Tyson’s underling Goldie. 


While this heavy subject is one that is seeing

an uptick in popular media, the fear is that the over-sexualizing of these

young women being pimpled and trafficked isn’t what will solely attract

potential viewers over the importance of the story. Still, over-sexualization is

the crux of the problem – if there was no demand, there would be no need for a

supply. To paraphrase an old professor of mine, America is a place where sex

can be seen everywhere, but not gotten anywhere. He is correct, for as the

media feeds the public images of what men and women should be attracted to, it

criminalizes the often difficult attainment of it to create an industry where

the world’s oldest profession maintains its foothold to dangerous degrees. 

Pinckney himself feels that with the overwhelming statistics

on human trafficking, with his series he just wants, “to make a



“The Trade” is careful in unfolding its story, yet executes

the action quickly.  The first

directorial foray of Pinckney and Black Noise into episodic television, the

producers shared that they are currently in their second round of pitches.

Keep a look out here for future news on this show. 

Shadow and Act is a website dedicated to cinema, television and web content of Africa and its global Diaspora. With daily news, interviews, in-depth investigations into the audiovisual industry, and more, Shadow and Act promotes content created by and about people of African descent throughout the world.

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