Powerful is the first word that comes to mind when I think of Quan Lateef-Hill. Often, the mighty exists in modest packaging, and Quan is hella mighty. She’s a force in the entertainment industry, and she’s just getting started. When we first met years ago, I immediately felt admiration for Quan. I thought to myself, “Wow, I am NOT alone in this industry. Check out this fly sister making things happen!” One of the happiest days of my life as an independent filmmaker was meeting Quan. Being a Black Muslim Woman in any professional setting is often living the lonely life as the unicorns we are. We’re usually the only person anywhere with all three identifiers; what I call the “Triple Threat Trifecta.” But, Quan’s got this powerful smile that invites you to feel just as empowered as she is, and I felt like we were “Black Muslim Girl Cool Club” members. From her beautiful headscarves, (her mom makes them!) to her dope kicks, Quan reps that #BlackMuslimGirlFly, effortlessly. Read more about this powerhouse lady, momma, and wife, and how being a producer in Hollywood is connected to Quan Lateef-Hill’s #BlackMuslimGirlFly.
TeamBMGFly: #BlackMuslimGirlFly is defined as that “it” factor Black Muslim Girls & Women have that makes them amazing, dope, & fresh-to-death awesome. How would you describe your #BlackMuslimGirlFly?
Quan Lateef-Hill: It’s hard for me, and I think this is a big thing for all Muslim girls in general, Muslim women. Because we are so culturally ingrained to be really humble, and really modest, we’re just like, “Ok, ok, I didn’t really do anything. It’s not me.” So, when you say the “It Girl Factor”, the “Black Muslim Girl Fly,” my first take on that is to shy away from it and say, “Well, I thank you. I guess I’m fly, but not really.” Yet, I am. I gotta own that and step into it, but it definitely is a draw-back because my first instinct is to say “I’m just regular. It’s okay, don’t hype me up.” This is actually the opposite of our culture now. It’s funny because, everybody, everywhere is so fly, they’re on Instagram. They’re doing their thing. It’s also the opposite of hip-hop culture, which is a part of me and growing up. Me being from the US and being a Black girl, plus a Muslim girl, there’s that whole piece where, in hip-hop, you are floss, and you are the baddest, and all this stuff. Whereas in juxtaposition, in Islamic culture, we’re not ‘all out there like that.’
My husband and I had our honeymoon in Morocco. After we got married we were traveling through a Muslim country, and we saw how people just set up their homes: on the outside very plain and simple, but then on the inside, some of them were pure opulence; with marble here and beautiful embroidery there, and textiles. They were really taking the styles internally, versus presenting that to the world. So, when you say that, #BlackMuslimGirlFly, all of those things come to my mind. I guess I define it as, saying I’m humble and gracious in terms of all the flyness I walk with. But, also, in that identity, I have this responsibility to give back, to take care of the people around me; take care of my community. So, I see my flyness in my work, what I do versus what I say. I see it in what I do, versus what I look like, or what label I’m wearing. My #BlackMuslimGirlFly is more a “Quan Fly,” based on what I’m contributing.
TeamBMGFly: How did you grow into your Muslim identity? And, how does being a Black girl impact that? (Or, if you’re bi-racial, or of multi-ethnic heritage, how does that impact your Muslim identity?)
Quan: It’s a little complicated, I was born and raised under Islam, but specifically my family, my mom was a convert. She converted in her 20s in college her whole family is traditionally Baptist Christian. SO they were very much like “What are you doing? What’s that girl, what’s happening?”, and then she met my dad, who grew up Catholic but converted in his late teens. My family, as they were growing up, was predominantly Nation of Islam Muslim. So same principles, but some differences in the practice and execution. And, of course, some of the fundamental ideas and terms, ‘like the white man is the devil’ and things of that nature, are where you’re like “Mmmm, okay, that’s a little bit away from Islam to be peace and love,” and all these other things. So growing up, that was very much the doctrine, but in terms of how I got to my #BlackMuslimGirlFly was that piece about Islam that was very pro-Black, Blackness, and the Black man is the original man. All of these kinds of things are taught under that. My mom is a teacher so the way she was able to mold us, in terms of the understanding of self, was the main thing as we were growing up. I think that is how I found my #BlackMuslimGirlFly so to speak. It was having the knowledge of who I am, my place in the world, my ancestors, my responsibility, what I can take from the community, what I need to give back. From having that purpose there, even having young conversations about slavery and systematic racism and what that is and does to a people, coming from that, and being fully into myself as just a woman, has been what helps me feel fly and be fly. Spiritually I moved away from Nation of Islam just to be “I’m a Muslim, I believe in the Islamic faith, but I’m not a part of that,” because of the things that were problematic to me with that around just culture and being here in America. I understand why certain things had to be taught, I understand why the Nation of Islam and Elijah Muhammad was forming, and coming out. A lot of Black people did need to just get out and break away from this kind of mental slavery where a lot of us still are in. For me, after me becoming free in a sense, it was “Where do I go from here next, spiritually? And, how do I get a little higher with it”. So no, I don’t consider myself to be a part of the Nation of Islam, but definitely, I’m Muslim.
TeamBMGFly: How do you maneuver your industry as a Black Muslim Woman?
Quan: I was homeschooled all growing up to college. I cannot help but remember all these people asking me stuff such as “How does it feel to be the only one to walk in the room when you are the only Black Girl, or Muslim person because you got that thing on your head?” I have always covered, my whole post-puberty life. I probably started covering when I was around 3 or 4 because of my parents. I would hear questions such as, “When you walk in with that thing on your head, how did it feel?” And, I would say, “I didn’t feel different, I felt I was Quan”. I never acknowledged that there were people who had this kind of thing they were trying to put on me. I would just be like, “Hey guys, I’m here. What are we doing? What’s the activity we are participating in?” And, so the whole idea of a crutch, or something that may hold me back, or that I should think other people are seeing towards me, I just refused to participate. Over time, I come into spaces, and I know I have something to offer. Of course, there are going to be instances where you’re nervous, or when you’re going to an interview, and I definitely think about that or think about how I’m preparing myself to enter a space. But, not taking with me the notion of my Blackness, my Womanhood, my Spirituality or any of that should play in how I am presenting myself; unless it’s for the good. If someone were to say we need more voices at the table, I will say well I’m a female voice, I’m a Black woman voice, I’m a Muslim voice, then I’ll bring out my flags and wave them. If I’m coming to the table to present my content to you or present an idea, or a tv show I’ve worked on, it’s definitely a good thing I have all these pieces or levels under me because again, it’s a broadened voice, but it should definitely not be something that I am ashamed of or feeling that people may manipulate in a negative way. I never can separate who I am. I have never been good at it. It’s funny because people always say that “Oh my God, I cannot believe you were yourself in the room!” Even when you have a conversation about code-switching, I just have never been good at that. First, you have to have a firm voice where you’re articulating your words to people such as, “I will not be paying this bill right now,” when you try to use your phone voice of course, but code-switching? I’m Quan, I’m from the midwest. I am doing this, this is who I am. I talk a little country, whatever, this is who I am, this is what I present when I walk into a room.
TeamBMGFly: You created the short film, “Distant Lover: TTYL,” What made you decide to take that leap of faith into filmmaking?
Quan: I actually went to film school, I went to Western Michigan University first for tv and radio production, then went to Howard University for Masters in Film Arts, MSA program. I didn’t finish the program and switched to the regular MA. We talked more about theory and analyzed film and media. Film and video production has been a part of me since I was fifteen. I went to public access, made short films, had video shows where I was the host for years. I got really into it because it was a space for me there because Media has always been important to me. I saw it as a classroom, an opportunity to educate people on people, and about people. In terms of a lot of the work I do, it’s to shift the perception of women and people of color and youth in the masses, because people have this narrow point of view. Even now we can celebrate the offerings we have now like “Atlanta,” “Insecure,” or “Blackish.” There’s more to see and there are more layers, which is great because we haven’t seen them in a while like “The Cosby Show,” “Living Single,” “The Martin Lawrence Show,” and things like that. But again, there’s always more, there’s always parts of our story where you’re like “That didn’t really hit on me, but I see it. I like it. I like where we are going.” So, that’s just a very important part of my life now. It has always been to open up the narrative, whether it’s a Muslim girl, or it’s a Black girl or its LGBTQIA, really making sure we are out there and visible. At the end of the day, the more stories we can tell, the more it humanizes all of us; that oneness of what I am reaching for. Shifting consciousness is what I say. It’s a whole concept of ‘the more I know about you, the more I’ll see myself in you;’ and that’s all of us. So that’s what is it is. I started at fifteen, then in college honing my skills, becoming a craftswoman. I always stayed studied up, went to a conference, or a talk or even on filmmaker.com, just to see what’s happening. What are the trends, in the space? From that I was working in tv for a long time in New York, really getting away from the creative side of myself, and focusing more on the side of a producer with the budget, logistics, the knowledge and tools I needed to put in my fanny pack. They weren’t necessarily things that were helping me stretch creatively, so I was able to get away from “Creative Quan.”
TeamBMGFly: How did you come up with the title “Distant Lover: TTYL,” and what’s the story behind it?
Quan: So with Distant Lover, I needed to make something. It’s been a long time since I was jotting down new ideas and having notes for days on my phone, and ooh and then this happens. I gotta get to this, and then I should focus on this story. Something I just saw on the train or walking by, but I have to create. I have to make something, especially if I call myself a creator, especially if I call myself creative, when do I do that? It’s just you spend so much time… I have been so fortunate to work on amazing projects and help elevate things I believe in, that it took such a long time to get back to myself. So with “Distant Lover,” I had written three shorts, and the concept for me was, “Which one can I make the fastest?” because it was me building up my confidence. It was because I had gotten so far away from the Quan that I always think about in my mind. So, I would always go to the triple-access center in the city, finish all my work for the week, and I would rent a camera for the weekend, and make so many projects over the weekend, then turn in the camera on Monday. That was from the shooting, the editing, I was on my fire. I was working on it, doing it all, on a weekend, thinking “I have got this much time, two days, to make a project.” When I started I basically took songs and made videos to them. It was great because I was flexing a muscle, working on it, practicing, critiquing, catching myself like ‘Ooh, that was out of focus,’ or ‘Ooh, sound is so important, lighting is so important. I’m gonna do better next time,’ learning those basics. In my position at that time, I was perma-lance at a network in New York, and I was just thinking “Bruh, what am I doing? I gotta make something.” So, I gathered up my friends and people who are professionals working in this industry, working every day, but not on our own stuff. My friend and I, Durwin my amazing DP who works mostly as a gaffer on projects, made a pact with each other saying, “I’ll produce your project, and you’ll get it done. You produce mine, and I’ll get it done. We will shoot two weekends apart, and if we need to rent something, we’ll share it.” One thing I liked about New York was that the cameras you can rent came cheap because the places were Jewish owned, and we got deals on the Jewish holidays like Rosh Hashanah. We had his equipment, we got actors together, casting calls together, did the project from beginning to end. Like I said, I had three shorts, and I chose which one I thought was the easiest with one or two locations. I called actors I knew and auditioned one or two others, and made it happen. “Distant Lovers” is very important to me because at the time I wasn’t in a long distance relationship then, but leading up to it I was with my now husband, he was in D.C, I was in New York. He was in New Orleans, I was in Los Angeles; he’s from New Orleans. So, we just had a lot of long-distance interactions throughout us being together, and so many creatives and entrepreneurs had the same experience. We would talk about it like, “Girl how do you do it?” “Well, I flew into this city, he came to join me, we met up in London and were there together,” like all of us. So many people have that story because we want to have it all. We want this amazing relationship. We want a family, but also this dope career, too. It felt timely like it was a millennial story, a creative story, an amazing woman story. It felt like what any creative was going through. I felt like it was a story I could tell, and tell strongly, through visuals more than dialogue, or a narrative around it. That was the muscle I wanted to flex. If I am getting back to myself, let’s start at the rawness of it, can I really tell this story? Hearing you say it was romantic and all, it made me say “Oh my God, I think I did it! I think I got it!” It was just a few friends coming together, making the best of a weekend. Shot a part on Friday night, then the next morning, literally got on a plane and left New York.
TeamBMGFly: How do you keep aware of what you deliver as a Producer, (Its place in the industry, etc.) and what separates you from others in your industry?
Quan: Ultimately the goal is a lovely marriage of the two. I produce for tv, film, and live events. I first started in tv, then I got into live events, as I became a full-time position in tv, I became a freelancer. So, as of tv, I was having all these down times where there were no jobs, like during the holidays when everyone is on hiatus. All these little pieces would pop up where there was no tv project or commercial to be on, so I had to figure out how to figure this out, and to make the money stretch through all these times. A friend told me about an event, which I did easily in college, so it was like, ‘Yeah, I can do that,’ but I didn’t see it as a career. I did a couple of smaller-scale events, and then I did medium ones at the Tribeca film festival that year and I realized that I can do this. Then I started to get more opportunities and phone calls from that, and I bounced back and did a commercial, and then did something else. Now, I’ve gotten to a nice space where I can operate in all the different areas where I’m producing content for an area in mobile, online, or working on an amazing award show like Black Girls Rock. And, as a producer, working on packages, working on some of the script, then go back and do Essence Festival. I’d have three stages there, and I was able to work in those areas. But, for me, it’s a marriage because it’s a shifting consciousness. Whenever I walk into an experience, feel that, hear that in this space, it will shift the way I think and the way that I connect with other people. Whether I watch something small and tiny and stackable on my phone, or I’m scrolling through someone’s IG feed, all of that is consumption. For me, it’s the perfect place to be, but also it is again making sure that I’m uplifting all these things I believe in. While being a part of all these amazing projects, I still need to create for myself. In a perfect world, I am like QQ Abrams, like J.J Abrams. He’s like my lighthouse, so when people ask if someone’s my mentor, and I stole this from my husband, so I say my lighthouse because of the light. Then, you’re like, “Ahh, okay I got you. J.J Abrams. He’s able to create and develop stuff that we love and put it out in the world. He’s also the voice of reason in the room who says “Lets put a black guy in there. Why don’t we make this character an Asian woman? Lets do that.” I can be that, and then I can also go work on a dope podcast and do all of these things because they are all consuming. I can shift all this craziness in our culture we have.
TeamBMGFly: What’s the number one thing you hope people will gain from watching any of the content you create, whether it’s drama or it’s comedy or a special program?
Quan: Yeah, I mean its the same. It’s definitely the same, I want people to feel something. Everything I create, whether I’m lending my hand to it, not taking a job I don’t believe in, I don’t want to continue to elevate garbage, I don’t want to be a part of so and so, it’s not the project for me. All money is not good money. I’m always really focused on the stuff that I’m a part of, and the things that I create, being that someone who shifts the consciousness and changes the perceptions of women, of people of color, of youth. If it’s not doing that, ‘Then, why are we even doing it right now?’ for me. Everybody has got to do their own thing, and I love that there is balance out there, we need that. But, for Quan, this is the space and the lane that I operate in and I stay in because I do see immediate results from having that exist. Like you seeing Oprah changed your whole life, “Wait, we can do that? I can be out there?” Having seen that impact on young girls or youth, being a part of programs such as media literacy where you literally sit, talk to and mentor eleven year olds, who say “Oh, I don’t know, I only have as an example for me Nicki Minaj,” not when there’s a wealth of women, where there’s a Lauryn Hill, a Queen Latifah, or a Lil’ Kim, that would show me that I can choose who I want to be. But, if I only have one representative, then no. You are just telling me that this is all that there is. I’m really always trying to make sure that work stays in that space. That’s me. That’s where I’ll be; in the back with my hoodie out.
TeamBMGFly: What is your typical day like? And, tell me about any special events you’ve recently attended as a Producer?
Quan: My day is not typical. I like it like that. I had an experience where I was working a regular job, and going to one place. I did that before, then decided I’m off that. I want to be on set, like in New Orleans at a festival week, just moving around and having different experiences. In relation to that, I am also a creature of comfort. I like stability. I like routine. I am that weird Sagittarius who likes to plan things out. I like to get up, get my tea, and do this, and write down my to-do list, and all of that. My typical day is also different because, as I was telling you earlier, my year is kind of split up in a specific, strategic way, but it gives me that comfort where if we just go through the top of the year, it is just a time of me being in development. “What are the ideas and stuff that Quan wants to create this year, what are those concepts?” And, really writing those down, fleshing those out, getting a treatment in, working with the writer or myself when I am doing the first draft, having all of these meetings with creatives and collectives I believe in, and people who support me. A lot of ideation, like getting my trademark done, finishing applications for that, or fund the new business; these kinds of things are at the top of my year. Then I start working. I get on projects like a bunch of festivals that happen during the summer, or just getting on stuff. ‘What’s happening, what’s out there, what can I be a part of?’ For me, it’s really important to build and have consistent clients because I feel you have more of an impact there. I like to be consistent in that. Then, in the fall, or end of the year, it’s again about creation for me. So, whatever was at the top of the year I was thinking about or was working on, ideating, getting a one-sheet done for, or an outline, the bottom of the year I’m supposed to be working on that. So, “Distant Lover” I shot in late September. There’s a festival of sorts that my husband and I are creating called Creative Carnival that’s gonna happen in New Orleans, this year in October. The beginning of this year and last year was, ‘What do we need to do? What permits do we need grab? How do we make sure this comes to fruition at the end of the year after we have all done our work?’ That’s why my schedule is different, but then again, on top of all of that, I had a baby this year so now I don’t know what my schedule is. Everything is crazy. I’m breastfeeding, pumping, going to a doctor appointment for a thousand hours, and everything changes.
TeamBMGFly: How does your career impact the other aspects of your life, including your family?
Quan: I am usually energetic, but recently, I’m on low energy. I‘m barely getting by and getting things done since I had the baby a few months ago. I’m just groggy doing things, barely making it like “Ugh, what do you want, what time is this call, let me do this.” I have definitely seen a shift in my work style, how quickly I can get things out. I would be up at 5 am making my to-do list, then I’m feeding and unable to get on the laptop. There has definitely been a change and a shift in my energy, but my energy is still up. I work hard to have my energy up in terms of the food I eat. I’m vegetarian, and I always try to have a little fitness in my life, (not always good at that.) And, I’m definitely being conscious of what kind of people are around me. And, if I’m scrolling, I make myself go look at one person who inspires me and get that good energy. Really, being conscious of what I consume whether its content, food, or people. For me, my family structure has shifted very recently. Before, it was just my husband Will and I. Two creatives out here jumping on flights, going places. Literally, last year, we were in New Orleans, London, New York. I was in New York for 3 months last year. Then back here, we are based in L.A, so we have our home here, but we travel to these places. In New Orleans, we were there for like, 15 days last year. We move around, and we go places. He’s an artist, so he performs in different locations, where I’m like “Oh, that’s cool. I’m coming to that,” or “Wait, you’re at that festival? I’ll be there,” just to hang out and experience it. So, the idea of us now having a little one to take around to all those spaces was at first, daunting. Last year when we were making the decision to go ahead and have the baby, try having one, and then actually having one, we were wondering if we had to change our whole life mold for the baby, or mold the baby for us? What about our careers and all of these things we want to accomplish? And every wise person we spoke to said “No. Babies fit into your life, especially if you want them to be as cultured and dope as you want them to be. They get to learn and have these experiences. So, I got my baby his passport, got all his stuff for preparation, got him this and that to make him pretty much down to roll; and now he’s almost 4 months. He’ll be at an art opening, like last weekend in L.A, at an underground museum. He’s there meeting and greeting people. He’s just out here in the world. There is definitely a shift that has to be made. Two weeks ago, in Atlanta, I went on my first business trip since having him. I have family there, a really strong base of Muslim family down there, so I dropped him off at their day-care center, and he was able to really be integrated into that. My mom was visiting in Atlanta, for right now, so it was a scary experience getting on a plane with a 3-month-old, but it all worked out. All because we planned it appropriately. Feeding him when we take off and before we touch down, having extra wipes to sanitize ourselves through the airport; planning and pre-planning for all that, being ready for the experience. On the other side of that, being communicative in your relationships with people, whether extended family, your partner, and your child, so they can learn. But asking, “What do you want? What are your goals?” My husband and I had to do that, before having Francois. ‘I got this opportunity to have this amazing job in New York, but I need to be there for 4 months, are you okay with that?’ Where will you be, let’s map it out. We have this whole wall with a huge calendar, just for the family, with dates on it, and lots of conversations, in our house. What is on the calendar is also on our phones. We have a calendar just for our family with important dates for the baby to go to the doctor, or so and so is coming over our house to hang out, just really communicating and making those decisions because what we do is our purpose. We have to give the time and space for it. My husband is currently working on an album, so he has to give up part of himself to create this album. So, if he just had an emotional moment about writing something that is deep-seated in him, then I can’t expect him to come from the studio and just be happy and cheery. I got to roll with it. I can’t expect him to come out of it. It’s the same with me. If I’m putting something down for a script, or if I’m at an event, if someone just told an emotional story, or if I’m pulling things out of people, I can’t just come back and get back in the flow. There has to be an understanding there, and that has been a big thing for us, just building that safe space for us at home. We also work from home a lot; so making an opportunity where you can work and live.
TeamBMGFly: Who did you look up to while growing up? Who inspires you now?
Quan: I’ve always compartmentalized people. A lot of my heroes are specific to people close to me. My mom, my family, my grandma… My grandma is one of my favorite people from Mississippi. She moved to the midwest with her husband and had no other family, and she made her own life. Creatively, there are people I have looked up to who have created remarkable things. This amazing Black producer who everyone talks about, and who I’ve known since I was little, who was one of the first. He earned it. And it’s surprising because no one really talks about them. We all hear about Rosa Parks and MLK, but where are all the creatives out there? James Baldwin. It took so long to find out about him, and know about him. As a woman and filmmaker, people like Julie Dash, Kasi Lemmons, even Gina Prince-Bythewood. Oh my God, how did I not know about them? Why did it take me so long? I wanted them earlier. I wanted them right away. It’s hard to see all of them and to pick one because we won’t know everybody who has created something. My husband and I have started to create a creative company called Circa 82, and under it which is our own creative agency, is our work created together. Also, a part of that was a t-shirt or an apparel line, so people can see these faces and ask who the people are on the shirts, and what they do. It’s a chance to educate and expand a person in their knowledge at that moment when they ask beyond what they already know. Even if it’s that little nugget, like telling someone about Zora Neale Hurston, you are just able to share a little bit and entice someone to go look into them or spark an interest; a deep dive on Google, or follow a hashtag, and say, “Huh, I learned something.” I was by a post office and a lady asked me who was that on my shirt, and that was enough for me. It’s what I want to come forth; them asking questions. Unsung heroes. I didn’t see all these people around me in terms of family and just started to have heroes to pick out like Lena Horne. “Who is she? Dorothy Dandridge? What? How come no one told me about this?” It was when I started to get back to myself, like “Oh, we’ve been had that. We have those skills.”
TeamBMGFly: Can you describe a moment where you felt defeated, and how did you overcome that?
Quan: There are levels to defeat. There’s like the failure, defeat of career or creation, or in life and being human, saying the wrong thing to a friend, not expecting this situation to go over like that, and even being a parent. Being a mom, I’m like “This isn’t working. I don’t know what’s happening. Whats going on?” There are just all these kinds of feelings. I think it happens on all levels, in all places, and all the time. That’s the thing I think people don’t really talk about or acknowledge. I have felt defeated about ten times this week. It’s all about time we feel it. So pulling out one example, I don’t know that I can do that for sure, but I definitely know that over time it happens. It feels so huge, and it feels like it’s in every space and it’s debilitating. And it’s, “How do I move forward past this?” Every time it gets to that level, we just have to take the time. You can’t just, some people are like “push through, push through, lean in,” and I don’t do that. I have to acknowledge it, and then figure out what’s the best way to deal with it. I figure out what’s the next step to take; “Do I go back out there? Do I meditate on it? Do I look at my goals list and re-examine it?”
TeamBMGFly: Can you describe a moment where you felt like you defied odds or broke barriers?
Quan: Man, I don’t know. It’s just like ‘Post-baby Quan’ or whatever, but I feel like its everyday. Every day we, as Black Muslim Women, with the focus of this program, we think about this all the time. It’s breaking barriers by walking out of your house. I feel like you literally walking out of your house, you are breaking a barrier. You get up, and you keep going. There are so many projects and ideas and concepts, and right now a lot of people are celebrating how easy it is to create stuff, but that also means there is a lot of garbage being created. And, a lot of people who haven’t taken the time to perfect, or be a craftsman or craftswoman are just like “Oh, I can conjure something up! I can make something on my phone!” Those who actually do take the time, and are consciously analyzing ourselves, constantly re-examining, that right there, is a barrier to break; just to say, “This script is done, and I’m ready to send it.” To say, “This is something to share. This idea and concept is something to share with the world.” What? That’s so scary. For us women working in our space, we have to do this every day. We have to share something, forward an email, push ourselves to say “This is something I believe in, can you see it? Can you see what I’m trying to tell you about it? Does this look pretty to you? Do you believe in it?” All of that. I think this can be true for everybody, specifically creatives, women who are creatives because people don’t even think the way we think. They don’t get it. When they see it, they may feel it, when we’re trying to explain it or put it in the script, put it on paper, it’s like, “I hear you, but I don’t know how it’s going to make me feel.” “But no, when she turns around and looks into the camera, you’re gonna feel this.” As creatives, I feel like we are breaking barriers every day.
TeamBMGFly: What would you cite as the foundation of your success?
Quan: I mean, see, I don’t feel I am that successful. I got more to do. No, in that, I think the foundation is my family. I guess I was going to say my faith, and I paused on saying that because, it’s not so much faith in a spirituality space, but faith in, I’m here to do something. Faith and my purpose. And, so I’m feeling that is my foundation. I think that’s what keeps me going. I think that’s what helps me break the barriers, and helps me rise above defeats. Every time, it’s like, “Man, I can’t do anything else; because I’m here with a purpose.” It’s just like, my mom is a teacher and she can go into a classroom and impact all of these people, and my classroom is just a bigger landscape. The projects I put out, the projects I am part of, the experiences I help create, it’s still entertainment in a sense. It’s shifting culture and it’s helping people see things differently.
TeamBMGFly: #BlackMuslimGirlFly is an empowerment brand created to uplift and remind Black girls that they are FLY in many ways. What advice would you give all the Black Muslim girls out there, worldwide, to cultivate their own individual #BlackMuslimGirlFly?
Quan: Man, Black girls…for some reason, we have it the worst. We really do, and I feel like, in order for us to overcome and break those barriers, we have to go with it. We meaning me as an individual, and us as a community. I have to say “Nia, I see you. I’m your sister, I got your back. What do you want to do? I’m here for you, let’s make it happen!” I have to do that for you, and I have to do that for myself. And, until we all do that, we’re still going to be fighting, at every turn. Be that support to the people around you. Be that support for yourself. Its okay to mess up. It’s okay for you not to get it right. But say “I’m going to keep going. I’m going to keep trying.”
TeamBMGFly: What’s something you haven’t done yet, but would like to do next?
Quan: It’s funny because I’ve worked on so many dope projects before. There are so many amazing things, but not a lot of them are mine. I have this baby idea in my mind that I’m trying to push out. All of my energy is, during my “downtime,” has been around ‘Creation Quan.’ I’ve been able to say this is mine, and it takes a village to create it, but it’s out of my brain vs. a collective that I’m a part of, and that’s where I am now. This time, next year, I would love to have finished actual scripts and get them out there. And, I’d love to get some projects created, a feature film, that is again, me. And, I’ve got some great shorts out there now, but stepping into that space of a feature film as a producer and director, that’s where I see myself literally stepping in to see my own creative space. I’ve had these ideas for 100 years, different iterations of them, people come on board and say let’s make it happen, girl! ‘Ok, right after I finish this other thing for this other person, etc.’ Perpetually on the back burner, as they say, now I’m on my to-do list, definitely focusing on lifting up, and getting some Quan stuff done.
Thanks again for sharing your story with us and the rest of the world. For far too long, we’ve been made to be invisible. I believe it’s very important for us, Black Muslim Girls and Women, to stand up and speak up and let the world know we are here and we’re making things happen. ~Nia Malika Dixon
*CIRCA EIGHTY TWO:
Creative Agency started with her husband, WILLARD HILL.
Check out our ABOUT page: https://www.circaeightytwo.com/about
Husband: WILLARD HILL:
The CRESCENT CITY CREATIVE CARNIVAL (C4), Saturday, October 20, 2018 in New Orleans.
A one-day event that will bring artists and creators together to showcase their work and talents, learn something new, give back, unwind, and leave inspired.
*Willard and Quan are creating an environment ideal for Artists & Creatives to gather. Additionally, they want to connect local New Orleans artists and youth to the opportunities and careers that exist in the arts, create a pipeline for NOLA talent, and showcase the many outlets available through the arts.
*Tickets to C4: