Ta’Naejah’s Journey

(L to R): September Williams, Julie Dash and Ta'Naejah Reed. Photo Credit: Tommy Lau Photography

(L to R): September Williams, Julie Dash and Ta’Naejah Reed. Photo Credit: Tommy Lau Photography

“I am black girl becoming black woman. I stand, I stand tall.”

– Ta’Naejah Reed’s My Place | My Story Film, Black Girl Becoming Black Woman
Ta'Naejah Reed at the Rafael with Animal Pack

Ta’Naejah Reed at the Rafael with Animal Pack

Over the past few years, our community has seen Ta’Naejah Reed grow up to become a vibrant young woman during her tenure with the CFI Education program. We first met her at the young age of nine, when she was referred from a local Marin City social-service agency and invited to participate in a My Place | My Story workshop. You may remember her animated creation, a sweetly poignant story called Animal Pack, which used animals as an allegory for her family.

Seeing her potential, CFI Education invited her to take part in an international animation workshop the following year. Taking her very first airplane flight, she joined classes at the renowned SAF School of Animation in Croatia. Since then she has engaged in a number of programs, and at the age of 14, completed her fifth short film, Black Girl Becoming Black Woman, which conveyed her personal journey towards finding self-confidence as a teenager.

L-R: September Williams, Ta’Naejah Reed, Julie Dash, Zoë Elton. Photo credit: Tommy Lau Photography

L-R: September Williams, Ta’Naejah Reed, Julie Dash, Zoë Elton. Photo credit: Tommy Lau Photography

When the opportunity came up to invite a student to co-present during the 39th Mill Valley Film Festival, we knew just the girl! Ta’Naejah was thrilled to join CFI executives on stage for the MVFF Award presentation for filmmaker Julie Dash, the first African-American female director to theatrically release a  full-length film in the US, honoring her legacy of work and contribution to film.

“It put filmmaking in a new perspective for me; understanding how someone can take a passion and turn it into a career was exciting.

I was able to meet Ericka Huggins of the Black Panther movement who told me some of her struggles as an African-American woman fighting for justice. September Williams, my co-presenter, who is a doctor and short film creator, helped me see where my future could lead through film!

Just being able to spend time on stage with woman of such talent was amazing. It helps me continue to reach higher towards my future.”

-Ta’Naejah Reed, on her experience co-presenting at the MVFF39 Tribute to Julie Dash

Thank you to all of you who help the California Film Institute to make opportunities like these available to over 8,000 students like Ta’Naejah each year! Special thanks to Andree and John Jansheski who provided scholarship support for the International exchange.

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