If I had to describe myself in one word, it would be resilient. My life has been filled with trials and tribulations. Having to adapt to new school curriculums because of Hurricane Katrina and coping with the deaths of close family and friends were some of the issues, but nothing compares to what happened on December 3rd, 2014. It was two days before my seventeenth birthday and I remember it vividly. “I’m fighting myself…” were the words I uttered to my mom when I realized that I had hit rock bottom. She didn’t understand at first, but when I revealed to her that I nearly committed suicide, she was speechless. At that point, I broke down and felt as if I was being emptied through tears. I was consumed by negative thoughts and felt as if I was withering away like a plant injected with a lethal poison. Genuine happiness had escaped from me, and I desperately needed to find a remedy. To do so, I revisited my roots: music, basketball, and media.
Music is like a heartbeat that fuels me throughout the day. However, the music that I was listening to was unhealthy for my soul and began corrupting my mind. My mother would hear snippets of the music and could tell that it wasn’t positive. “Change your music, change your mind,” is what she’d tell me, but I’d always brush her off. Nevertheless, her words stuck with me; I began looking past the beats and catchy hooks and searched for true messages. Kendrick Lamar became the most influential artist in my life. He and I come from different places domestically and financially, but mentally we share common ideas. Kendrick also battled with suicidal thoughts and is unhappy with the treatment of African-Americans. From listening to his music, I realized that I too could use my talent as a tool to aid the world politically and socially.
Along with shifting my music style came the return of basketball to my life. Without it, I would not be as close to achieving personal peace as I am now. The gym had become sort of a safe haven where I’d be relieved of stress whether it was at that moment or for a period of time afterward. Either way, I knew basketball would always be there as an outlet to clear my mind. The revived relationship has been so therapeutic that I joined my school’s basketball team. Rather than being recognized for my shooting ability, I was recognized as “the father figure of the team” as my coach would say, or in a simple yet complex term, a leader. My teammates noticed my resilience and determination without knowing my backstory and for that, they looked up to me. I accepted the role and went about fulfilling it the best way I knew how, by being a friend.
Things were better in my life, but there was still the void of not being able to completely share my thoughts and feelings. Friends wouldn’t fully understand and things were uncomfortable with my parents. For weeks, I believed I was out of answers until I realized that the answer was always right in front of my eyes, my camera. I had never thought about using the art of media for serious issues, personal or worldly, but as mentioned earlier, Kendrick Lamar shined a light on that idea. I began experimenting with the concept through school projects. After a while, the experiment became a practice. Week after week, whatever the assignment, I found a way to make it about something real. People were moved by my films and I even began surprising myself. What started off as a hobby evolved into a lifestyle and the void was filled. I finally felt that I had found my peace; now I am ready to take the next step.
My goal in life is to help the world become a better place through multimedia. The world is in trouble and African-American males are becoming endangered, but with love, media could be the tool that brings everyone together.
About the Filmmaker
Submitted by Anthony Richard Jr.
Anthony “TonyRich” Richard Jr. is a freshman, TV & Film major at Howard University. He’s 18 years old and was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. He started having an interest in filmmaking and photography at the age of five and his talents are still growing. Anthony has moved from simply wowing his audience to using his voice for social change. He has been quoted in the New York Times and also covered the GRAMMYS and GRAMMY Camp: Jazz Session as a Grammy Foundation/Grammy in the Schools Correspondent. He is also the recipient for the 2015 Satellite Center’s Video and Animation Festival for Best Documentary Film.