Laurens Grant has invested herself in the business of storytelling. She's a three-time Emmy and Peabody Award-winning filmmaker. Her credits as a documentary filmmaker include The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, Jesse Owens and Freedom Riders. BET recently spoke with the filmmaker, who laid out the foundation for her latest project, Stay Woke: The Black Lives Matter Movement.
What do you think it means to stay woke?
Don’t close your eyes, metaphorically and literally. Whatever people perceive as injustice in the world, stay focused on that. Keep your eyes on the prize and never forget the past.
How do you define activism?
I would say activism is when you feel compassionate and compelled, when you can’t act any more. With social media, social activism is taken to another level.
As a filmmaker, do you consider yourself to be an activist?
I’m a filmmaker. You hope that audiences are moved in some sort of way.
Who are some role models in the modern-day civil rights movement that you look up to?
There are so many people who just got the ball rolling so fast, how they move the needle in so many landscapes. Everyone should be able to have a role model.
What do you hope people take away from watching this account of the evolution of the Black Lives Matter hashtag?
It doesn’t matter who you are or where you are from, you can move the needle. I hope it teaches us that you just need to act. It could be in another state or another country.
What are your thoughts on young people anchoring their beliefs in the idea that this is not their daddy’s movement?
Each generation said this is not their daddy’s movement. They said each generation needs to find their own language. They can learn a lot off each generation, as each generation has that dream to do something different.
What was the process in coming up with this documentary and then executing it?
The process is always longer than what you want it to be. As a filmmaker, you find that your goal is to question. People can take away what they want when you probe and ask. You can take the emotion out of that to create a complete film.
(Photo: Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images)