Open Call Impact Campaign Announcement

Last year, Represent Justice launched our first-ever Impact Campaign Open Call, to provide an in-kind impact campaign to a film or television series addressing mass incarceration. We wanted to prioritize not just the stories but the storytellers – projects helmed by people who are currently or formerly incarcerated. Not just as participants but as producers, editors, directors, and writers.

I was humbly blown away by the incredible amount of applications we received from film teams and so inspired by the storytelling power displayed in each of the projects. However, we could only select one…

I am proud to announce that Represent Justice’s first-ever Open Call impact campaign will be awarded to the feature film Kemba. 

Kemba is a fictionalized account of the life of Kemba Smith, a college student who falls in love with an older man, only to learn he is a drug kingpin. He leads Kemba down a path of abuse and manipulation, placing her in the middle of the government’s “war on drugs” and ultimately landing her in federal prison.

Though she never handled, used, or sold the drugs herself, in 1995, Kemba was sentenced to over 24 years in prison for conspiracy to distribute due to mandatory minimum sentencing laws that started in the mid-80s. Because of her and her parents’ courage to share her story with the outside world and a supportive group of advocates, lawyers, and organizers, her sentence was commuted by President Clinton in 2000.

Kemba’s story is typical of so many women who find themselves in the system. Since 1980, women’s incarceration has grown by over 700%—faster than any other population in the country.

Women, and in particular women of color, are disproportionately impacted by harsh drug law enforcement.

Like Kemba, over 80% of women entering the justice system have also experienced one or more forms of victimization. Intimate partner abuse, racism, sexism, violence – these are all things that affect women uniquely. Many of these women are still in prison today.

Kemba is set to premiere on the popular streaming service BET Plus on February 22 and subsequently broadcast on BET, BETHer, and BET International. We are working with Kemba and the film team at Moving Picture Institute to design an impact campaign that will shed light on the justice system’s impact on young women of color while highlighting the harms caused by mandatory minimums and mobilizing audiences to support the release of the countless women still serving time behind bars under these extreme sentences.

We’re just getting started. Stay tuned for more.

With Gratitude,
Daniel Forkkio