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‘And She Could Be Next’ — Film explores how women of color are changing the political landscape

Colette Greenstein
Colette Greenstein
Colette Greenstein has been a contributing arts & entertainment writer for the Banner since 2009. VIEW BIO
‘And She Could Be Next’ — Film explores how women of color are changing the political landscape
Former Georgia State Representative Stacey Abrams is featured in the docuseries. COURTESY PHOTO

The two-part documentary series “And She Could Be Next” is a powerful testament to the collaboration and strength of women of color who are transforming American politics from the ground up.

Directed and produced by Peabody Award-winner Grace Lee (“American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs”) and Iranian documentary filmmaker Marjan Safinia (“Seeds”), the docuseries was filmed from 2018 through 2019. It follows several candidates around the country, including change agents Stacey Abrams of Georgia, Rashida Tlaib of Detroit, Michigan, and Bushra Amiwala, a Pakistani American college student from Skokie, Illinois, who first ran for a seat on the Cook County Board of Commissioners at age 19. The documentary also features organizers such as Nse Ufot, the powerhouse lawyer-turned-CEO of the New Georgia Project, who continues to be a force behind disrupting the political landscape in Georgia.

Director Marjan Safinia. COURTESY PHOTO

Director Marjan Safinia. COURTESY PHOTO

“And She Could Be Next,” which is POV’s first miniseries, made its world premiere last month on PBS, and is a co-production of POV and ITVS in association with the Center for Asian American Media and Latino Public Broadcasting, and a co-presentation of Black Public Media and the Center for Asian American Media. The series is also executive-produced by Ava DuVernay (“When They See Us” and “Selma”) and co-produced by James Costa, a dear friend and colleague of Safinia, who had served many years with her on the board of the International Documentary Association.

Costa says that when Safinia pitched him the project, he felt she needed to do this. “I knew that she would tell the story the way it needed to be told,” he says. “I didn’t want to let her down because I like investing in stories and filmmakers that I believe in, that are going to tell it in a way with integrity and have impact.”

Director Grace Lee. COURTESY PHOTO

Director Grace Lee. COURTESY PHOTO

The timely and very relevant documentary centers on race and gender amid the growing “New American Majority” — a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-generational coalition of Americans who represent the changing face of America.

For directors Safinia and Lee, the making of the film was about more than just telling the story of a campaign. They wanted “women who were rooted in the movement, rooted in their communities,” explains Safinia, in a recent conversation with the Banner. “These are women who have been deeply involved in the movement for social justice and inclusion their whole careers, and now this next step to governance is the logical evolution of their pathway, of really claiming power.”

In addition to the film being fronted by women of color, Safinia says, “It was really important to build a team that were all women of color that had close ties and shared experience with the women whose stories that they were going to show and tell. Internally, it was our own little political campaign to push back against some of the norms in our industry, where more women of color need to lead as well.”

In episode one, the docuseries goes behind-the scenes at local rallies, war rooms and church basements, where candidates and organizers embark on the campaign trail. Episode two focuses on the weeks leading up to election day and on how organizers combat voter suppression in their own communities.

The making of “And She Could Be Next” is profoundly personal for Marjan, Lee and everyone on the team. “The story we were telling is also our story. We are also the New American Majority,” she says. “We also understand what it’s like to be discredited or not believed in or unable to raise the big dollars because we don’t look like the kinds of people that people feel comfortable handing over big dollars to.”

WATCH

Search for POV in your TV listings or visit PBS.org to find your local station and broadcast time. Episodes are also available for free streaming starting at 9 p.m. each night (and for 60 days thereafter) at www.andshecouldbenext.com/watch or
on pbs.org/pov/shecouldbenext.

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