Meet Gabrielle Headly, the Filmmaker Behind ‘Black Minds Matter’

Gabrielle Healdy is an aspiring filmmaker studying at Howard University in Washington, D.C. If you have yet to watch, Black Minds Matter is a documentary focusing on the internal mental issues in the black community. It is not spoken about often and Headly decided to change that. She wishes to give a voice to those individuals who have been silently suffering from said mental illnesses. In our interview with Headly, she shares more about the influence behind her project and the message she wishes to send.

Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Gabrielle Headly, I am a sophomore at Howard University studying film and minoring in Japanese. On campus I work with my student government association to create policy pertaining to the health and wellness of the student body. I prefer to focus on mental health.

What is Black Minds Matter and what is the message you are trying to send through this documentary?
Black Minds Matter is the title of my first documentary. I wanted to release a project that encouraged students with depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses to continue their studies and keep striving in their academic endeavors. As I started to interview subjects it became much more than that, and I began to shift my focus on the experience of being young, black, and different.

Who is your target audience?

This film is targeted to teens and young adults of color because I want them to better understand what their peers are facing as well as assure those who face the same things that they aren’t alone. I also feel like it’s very important that older generations watch this film too because many of these problems could have been mitigated early on if parents and professors actually listened to their children and students.

Describe the creative process.
Honestly, the whole process was a mess. It was my first project, and I did everything on my own so the entire process was a learning experience.

What inspired you to approach the topic of mental illness in the black community?
I guess I’m inspired by the people I see everyday. Working in health and wellness you hear a lot of stories because people feel like they can trust you and you’ll listen. It’s pretty disheartening knowing that so many people are dismissive towards those who struggle with their mental health. So as someone who has been depressed and has anxiety, I wanted to create something that could articulate our collective experience.

Why did you choose filmmaking as your medium opposed to another such as a photo series or an article?
I was a journalist for three years and I just got tired of it. No one reads anymore, and everything is turning into click bate. So I wanted to create something honest while challenging myself.

Did the media and the events happening around us influence Black Minds Matter?
The media didn’t specifically impact my project in any sort of way. Black people have been struggling in silence for years. This isn’t anything new or triggered.

Do you plan on a sequel or a related project?
Yes! I don’t want to say too much but there will be many more projects on the way.

Affinity is a magazine for young minds, what are some words you would like to leave to our readers?
I know it can be hard, existing in a time like this where it seems like everything around you is corrupt, out of your control, and just bigger than you but nothing you are feeling is strange or unheard of. Embrace your emotions, and don’t blame yourself for naturally responding to things in whatever manner you do. There are people out there who care about what you have to say and care about your life. Never give up. Continue to grow, love, and learn.



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