Interview with Production Fellow Chaz Smith

Name: Chaz Smith
Age: 20
School: University of Pennsylvania
Major: Cinema Studies
Astrological Sign: Libra

ChazWe’re honored to have you join the One Student team, please share with your new extended family why you applied for this fellowship?
I applied for this fellowship after a friend of mine mentioned it to me because I have a strong passion for film and a great desire to impact and make a difference in people’s lives. However, I had absolutely no idea how much I would grow and learn about how and what it means be a supporter, ally, and activist.

What have learned about yourself throughout this experience?
Going into the production of the video, I wanted to create something that would wake people up to the reality of sexual assault because it literally happens everywhere and to a large percentage of the population, but far too often goes unreported because of the nature of the crimes.

Originally, I had planned to use great shock value to impact the audience––I wanted to surprise people with images that would astonish them. After reviewing the original script with Kelly, Becca, Sabrina, and a couple of close friends, allies, and survivors from school, I quickly learned that this was not at all the way to go.

It’s an extremely grave and sensitive topic, but the media works in a way in which it desensitizes our minds to it by making sexual acts (consensual or nonconsensual) seem casual.

So my next approach was to write a spoken word from the perspective of a female survivor, and have someone read it as I wrote it. Visually, it would have been similar to the finished product now, but for obvious reasons, the message wouldn’t have been the same. I thought that after having a few conversations with survivors and allies of sexual assault that I knew how to relate to them.

I was wrong.

The greatest lesson that I learned from this entire process is you never know or understand what or how someone else’s experience is or was––even if they tell you what happened verbatim. You never know. By assuming that we do know something, we rob ourselves of the opportunity to learn, grow, and become better people. So don’t assume.
Do you feel you are a better ally and activist since starting the project? 
I truly believe that I am a much better ally, much more well-suited to educate my peers on sexual assault awareness, and more knowledgeable of the specifics of rape culture. However, the lessons that I’ve learned have only made me realize how much more there is to learn from other people and their experiences. It’s endless.

What is your greatest hope once your production is released?
One of my hopes once this production is released are for one; for this video to impact survivor’s lives, inspire bystanders to become activists, and indirectly prevent assaults from occurring, whether it goes viral or not (and I hope that it does).

But far more importantly, I hope that the percentage of sexual assaults that occur on college campuses (and anywhere else for that matter) to drop significantly. It’s a stretch, but I have great faith that it will reach who it needs to reach.

Best meal you have ever had? 
The best meal that I’ve ever had… I can honestly say that I’ve had far too many great meals for an entire lifetime, so I can’t choose one, but my best meals were those that I didn’t expect or feel that I deserved.

Those meals weren’t particularly great because I was really hungry or because it was the best food that I’ve ever tasted; they were simply because while I was eating, I realized that this person really did not have to selflessly go out of their way to make sure that I was satisfied. That always makes food tasted a thousand times better.

When not creating social change on campus- what do you do for fun?

I love to kickback and sip on ginger ale with friends while having some meaningful conversations, I like to go the gym and run pick-up basketball games (watch your head because I will catch a dunk on you), and I love to get creative and conceptualize stories, make short films, and I just got into watching movies recently, so I have a lot of catching up to do.

 

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34 Comments

  1. Posted February 19, 2015 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    I think you need a publicist, bru, because you are going to be famous. thanks for your work

  2. Kalah Winters
    Posted February 20, 2015 at 6:41 am | Permalink

    thank you.

  3. Posted February 25, 2015 at 12:54 am | Permalink

    You’re a good guy Chaz Smith. As you mention in the video, we men are part of the problem. Thankfully, more men like yourself are trying to be part of the solution (after I had my eyes opened to sexism, misogyny, and Rape Culture a few years back, I began doing my part too).

  4. Posted March 3, 2015 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    Nicely produced video, although some might see it as feminist propaganda. So Chaz, while some are cheering you on, others offer critiques:

    http://youtu.be/gR8WziU4dfU

    Enjoy!

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