BY: KIMBERLY ALSUP
Had the opportunity to attend a screening of the first episode of Issarae.com’s new series GIANTS and when I tell you this new series loosely mirrors my life. From executive producers Jussie Smollett and Issa Rae and writer and director James Bland, this series will have you laughing and crying all while tackling issues within the black community.
GIANTS is an original scripted drama series about three friends determined to live life on their own terms, no matter the costs. It takes a deep dive into mental health and sexuality issues that are still somewhat stigmatized in the black community. The show also explores race, class, police brutality, and much more in a very honest and real way.
“GIANTS explores social issues that are either ignored or stigmatized by the black community and regardless of race, these characters’ experiences are relatable to almost anyone because they learn the hard way that when life kicks your ass, you either lie down or fight back.”
-James Bland (writer/director and Malachi)
In this series you will meet Malachi (James Bland), a former poet and religious skeptic with deep Christian roots who rejects the idea that he has to live life the way he’s always been told. He quits his corporate job and moves to L.A. He’s on the heels of 30 and searching for his purpose, but in the meantime, he takes odd jobs off Craigslist to make money.
Journee (Vanessa Baden Kelly) is Malachi’s best friend and roommate who struggles with depression and has a hard time keeping a job because she can’t will herself out of bed most days.
Was able to sit down and talk with series star Vanessa Baden Kelly who plays Journee. You will probably recognize her if you are from the old Nickelodeon age from Kenan and Kel and Gullah Gullah Island.
A Take Away from GIANTS:
It’s a snapshot into the lives of young black millenials to spark a debate. She wants it to infiltrate the space, bombarded with the idea of what you believe.
Pathway to Mental Health:
Prayer is important and allowing a break for herself. Vanessa tends to get validation through her performances. She discovered that along the way that she was reaching for a path that wasn’t hers so she was always reaching for bigger. It was struggle after struggle and she couldn’t get that it wasn’t her race to run. She is thankful for the community that rallied around her and carried her until she got to that point. Breakthrough came for her when she realized that it’s okay to lean on others. Being strong is allowing yourself to be vulnerable.
“It’s a problem when you can’t figure out the problem. When you know, you are just managing.”
-Vanessa Baden Kelly
On the Climb Back:
This series is James and I relationship. We deal with situations that happened to us in real life. She remembers moving to L.A. broke and taking Craigslist jobs. She would go out there and hustle because she knew herself and if she got too comfortable, she would stay comfortable. She had to figure out ways to support herself.
“When you’re hungry enough for freedom you will do something.”
-Vanessa Baden Kelly
Portraying Your Real Situations on Camera:
There were one or two hard scenes that were difficult to go back to. Not that they were so bad but they were dark places that you just don’t want to revisit.
You can follow Vanessa Baden Kelly on social media:
This is an amazing series that you have to watch, trust me you will feel for these characters and want to root for them. New episodes every Wednesday. Right now you can catch episodes 1-4 exclusively on IssaRae.com and on Issa Rae’s YouTube channel.
Follow GIANTS on social media for updates and behind the scenes footage: