Film Synopsis

Kemba is a BET Original and MPI Original film based on the life story of Kemba Smith Pradia, who is an executive producer. The film follows Kemba’s journey as a college student who falls in love with a man only to find out he isn’t who he seems. When Kemba learns of her boyfriend Khalif’s true identity as a drug kingpin, he turns abusive—grooming straight-laced Kemba to overlook his illicit dealings. Though she never dealt or handled drugs, Kemba receives a sentence of over 24 years for her boyfriend’s crimes—placing her in the middle of the government’s “war on drugs.” Never losing hope, her parents along with an attorney with the Legal Defense Fund launch a campaign for appeal and later clemency, harnessing the power of Black civic organizations, sororities, celebrities, and lawmakers to help free Kemba. Learn more at


Apr 18, 2024

Presented by Colorado Circles for Change

Denver, CO

Apr 18, 2024 - Apr 11, 2024

Presented by the Ohio Reformatory for Women

Marysville, OH

Jan 5, 2022

Presented by East Aurora High School

East Aurora, NY

Apr 18, 2024 - Apr 11, 2024

Presented by the Ohio Reformatory for Women

Marysville, OH

Take Action

Request a Speaker

Request a representative from the film to speak at your screening event!



  • Kelley Kali, Director

  • Christine Swanson, Writer

  • Rob Pfaltzgraff, p.g.a, Producer

  • Lana Link, p.g.a, Producer

  • Stacey Parks, p.g.a, Producer

  • Nick Reid, Executive Producer

  • Kemba Smith, Executive Producer

  • Constance Orlando, Executive Producer

  • Maureen Guthman, Executive Producer


  • Kemba by Nesta Cooper
  • Khalif by Siddiq Saunderson
  • Gus Smith by Sean Patrick Thomas
  • Odessa Smith by Michelle Hurd


Impact Campaign

Kemba is a fictionalized account of the life of Kemba Smith Pradia. Though she never handled any drugs herself, in 1995 Kemba was sentenced to over 24 years in prison for conspiracy to distribute drugs, due to mandatory minimum sentencing laws. She was pardoned by President Clinton in 2000.

Kemba’s sentence is typical of so many women who are impacted by mass incarceration. 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 incarcerated through harsh drug law enforcement and sentencing. Like Kemba, over 85% of women entering the justice system are survivors. Whether due to substance use or partner or caregiver violence, there is a profound lack of awareness and support offered in response to the coercive dynamics facing too many women.

Represent Justice is committed to addressing the justice system’s impact on young women of color and highlighting the harms caused by extreme sentencing. The Kemba impact campaign will mobilize audiences across the country to participate in the movement advocating for sentencing reform. The time to act is now, while an increasing number of jurisdictions are either passing or considering legislation to offer shorter sentences to survivors of family violence, intimate partner violence, and human trafficking who have committed offenses closely linked to their victimization experiences.

In early 2024, Represent Justice will partner with Kemba and the film’s team to launch an impact campaign, leveraging the attention of the Kemba broadcast on BET+, BET, BET Her, and BET International. Prior to the broadcast, the film is screening at film festivals and special preview events.