Seven Questions with Shanique Yates

Shanique Yates is the director of Voices Unheard, a collection of Black stories from right within our backyards that uplifts, informs & inspires.

1. Who are your film influencers?

Coodie Simmons & Chike Ozah – I love the way in which they showcase and share stories through documentaries. More recently, what they’ve done with Jeen-Yuhs and Katrina Babies have inspired me in more ways than a little bit

2. What are the toughest aspects of making a film today?

Funding. I believe that for Black creators, the ideas are always there. In fact, as Black people, we are filled with stories to tell, however, when it comes to support like funding the resources and far and few.

3. Best advice you’ve received as a filmmaker?

“Create to create for yourself.” Oftentimes, we feel as though our creations always have to be made with someone else in mind. For me, Voices Unheard: Family Ties was all about uplifting and championing my family’s legacy. That matters more to me than anything.

4. What does it mean to you to be a Black filmmaker or to create films with black stories or characters.

It’s so odd hearing myself being referred to as a filmmaker (haha). I am just someone with a love for storytelling and a passion to share stories about people who don’t often get a platform to be heard. What it all boils down to is being a voice for the voiceless, that’s what being a Black filmmaker means to me.

5. What does it mean to you that your film is on Aspire TV and other platforms?

I’m honored to have this film live on aspireTV due to the brand’s commitment to allowing Black people to see themselves in all walks of life. I know there will be other Black families who can relate to the story of my great grandparents and their children. This opportunity truly means the world to me and has inspired me to share more stories.

6. Advice you would give the next gen following you?

Don’t wait for people to give you a shot. Start creating now, with what you have in front of you. Over the course of my career, I’ve learned and am continuing to learn that there is so much power in having passion for what you do, so I’d tell everyone to figure out what it is that lights your fire and just go for it – the universe will always align to support you when you’re walking in your purpose.

7. Are there any inspirational films, articles or books that you would recommend to go deeper into the topics and themes in your film?

I’d recommend Farming While Black by Leah Penniman because it explores the deep connection that Black people have with the land and the importance of going back to our roots.