Philadelphia

FIRST PERSON: The Documentary that Will Change Minds

The portraits presented in the First Person documentary are based on kids living in Philadelphia, in tough neighborhoods. Not unlike kids in the “better” neighborhoods, these teenagers also have obstacles such as lack of motivation and peer pressure, but while also battling the violence that sometimes permeates their world. Most of the kids parents were very supportive and encouraging, although some of the kids did grow up in different parental situations, with single parents, and with little structure, and discipline. What was truly brave of these kids was their candor regarding their situations, particularly Macho, who confesses that he puts on a tough exterior to get through the day, or Fresh who contemplates selling drugs on the street because he doesn’t ever want to work at McDonalds. First Lady Lisa Nutter; Scion rep, James Johnson, Director/Producer Benjamin Herold who received the Scion Award for Best Director of a documentary, First Lady of Philly, Lisa Nutter and Thom Cardwell, PFF Dir. of Development
Here are the kids again…A big obstacle for the kids was the school system. Either teachers didn’t seem to care, especially towards grading the students and just passing the ones that were getting the failing marks too or they were too overwhelmed with the responsibility of being the only parental force in the kids lives, which is really a losing battle. As it is teenagers don’t always have the respect for adults in any neighborhood, and without parents to enforce discipline, the kids can run amok. It was heartening to see the teens as dreamy eyed Sophomores and psyched by the prospect of college and becoming professionals; but as the years waned on, the motivation eased and only 2 out of the 7 profiled made it to college. (Although another one is studying Real Estate in jail, as he serves out his term for murder)

Ursula Rucker entertains at the after party at the World Cafe
As much as I was disappointed in the kids who for some reason or another dropped out of school, because of the lack of motivation, or hopelessness. The support of their parents was amazing, and really impressed me. In the end it just seemed that peer pressure was too much to overcome for most of them. How many of us would rather be accepted by our friends, then to study alone for a future that seems so far off.

What a shock it was for me and Malikka Saeed to find out that the key to college costs are out of reach for so many. I was wondering was she the only student to go to a non-coed school? Maybe taking the distraction of the opposite sex out of the equation was helpful to reaching her education goal.

The candor of the students was amazing, even with my blogs I don’t think I could be so brave and vulerable in admitting my fears in such a public way. Finally, come on, don’t you think it’s our responsibility to educate the kids of our future. College should be affordable. Thank you Steven Parr, Malikka Saeed, Kurtis Graves, Shalisa Ousley, Macho, Doug Fresh for your courage in sharing your stories. I do hope you live your best life, but you’d better start soon or you might become one of those people Sharlisa describe so perfectly “I see my friends basically just sitting at home, doing what they was doing when they was little kids, watching TV and eating cereal in the afternoon.” TO SUPPORT FIRST PERSON and to read more about the documentary:

http://firstpersondocumentary.org/ And thank you Ben Herold for the story.