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Indie Film ‘No Lies Told Then’ Examines Black Womanhood in a Way That ‘Scandal’ Doesn’t

This is arguably the most prolific time for the black heroine in mainstream media.

From the big screen to the small screen (and the smallest screen), black women are, at once, lawyers, newscasters, music moguls, mothers, and inmates. Diverse in their speech, sexual orientation, and power, prime-time entertainment is just beginning to reflect the multiplicity that black women have always possessed. We are no longer on screen as either the quick-witted wife and mother or the hyper-sexualized arm candy. We are an amalgamation of protagonists who are confident, brilliant, loving, and sometimes confused, needy, and nerdy – just like we are in real life. And audiences want more.

In her upcoming independent film, No Lies Told Then, screenwriter Torri Oats pledges to “give a voice to the voiceless.” Sandra, an author who has amassed success most writers would envy, is at a crossroads when she reconnects with a man from her past.  Racing against time with a fast approaching deadline, and her own thoughts wondering what could be with her man-friend, 38-year-old Sandra stumbles down a road of love, empowerment, and self-discovery.

Scandal-Olivia-FitzSet in present-day Harlem, this film will capture the essence of Harlem’s old and new world: the same financial hope and creative freedom that encapsulated the Harlem Renaissance (incited by gentrification) blended with the stain of plight and poverty that has not gone unnoticed. Torri Oats creates a character that grows with her community and one whose personality mirrors its simultaneously raw and polished face every step of the way.

The appeal of many shows and films starring black women has been further proven through the behemoth of social media chatter. ABC’s Scandal real-time and fan-generated content during episodes, and Dear White People’s Twitter hashtag that inspired the film have shown that audiences are ripe for stories they can relate to and most importantly, talk about.

It is obvious that social media networks have become the social currency extension of the hair salon and barbershop for our community. Our Saturday-morning-salon-culture demands that you know what’s happening in education, politics, and entertainment. Social media has turned that Saturday morning culture into a 24/7 playground for thought leaders and plain old fans alike. No Lies Told Then will be diving into this playground, shining light on a story that black women, in one way or another, can empathize with and opine.

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But in the words of Torri Oats, No Lies Told Then “isn’t your typical Friday night fare.” What makes this film unique is that it doesn’t just show the middle of the story; it shows the whole thing. Oftentimes we meet and only know our black she-ro characters when they have reached a certain level of success. We don’t see how they came to be. But Oats also shows 13-year-old Sandra and all of the hope, dreams, insecurities, and let downs of teenage life that young girls and grown women will find familiar.

This tale of community, love, and discovery will undoubtedly resonate with audiences nationwide. The juxtaposition of coming of age and finding your true self in adult life that No Lies Told Then so uniquely owns is a representation of what Torri Oats says she has learned herself: “The connection may not always be pretty but the journey…is simply beautiful.”

This post was originally written by Sade Muhammad,  an NYC-based digital marketing coordinator passionate about using editorial, tech, and design to spread the story of multicultural women worldwide. It was republished with permission by No Lies Told Then. No Lies Told Then is the story of a successful author on deadline, fighting to salvage her career while forced to confront unresolved feelings for a past lover. Keep up with the film on Twitter. 

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