By Keisa Reynolds
Brown Girls is a tribute to what Chicago offers in arts, music, film, and most importantly, in its people. It explores two areas we can always appreciate—sisterhood and friendship—but it offers another perspective we don’t often see in media: two women of color from distinctly different ethnic backgrounds loving each other and having each other’s backs.
Loosely based on the friendship of Jamila Woods and the writer of the series, Fatimah Asghar, the series follows Leila (Nabila Hossain), a South Asian-American writer just beginning to own her queerness, and her best friend Patricia (Sonia Denis), a sex-positive Black-American musician who is struggling to commit to anything: jobs, art or relationships. While the two women come from completely different backgrounds, their friendship is ultimately what they lean on to get through the messiness of their mid-twenties.
“I think this series is going to explore sisterhood and friendship in a different way that I never really explored in my own writing, and not what we’ve seen around women of color,” says director and producer, Sam Bailey. “Usually you see all black girls or all Latinas, this is all brown people enjoying and loving each other. As women and women of color, we’re just so hungry for that content. It’s really important to me to contribute to that.”
Bailey is a Chicagoan, born and raised in Logan Square, where her hit web series You’re So Talented was filmed. Brown Girls was filmed in Pilsen at an arts collective space called the dojo.
“Everyone in the crew—behind the camera—have a specific view and are all Chicago artists,” she says. “You feel it on set. The energy is vibrant.”
Watching the series, viewers might find that it feels “innately Chi-town.” Popular local artists and personalities are easy to spot in the trailer, which was released in early November.
“All people I worked with before either through You’re So Talented or other films—people were connected to each other from one way or another,” says Bailey. “I think that’s why it went so well. No one really had to prove [themselves]—only to show up to set and bring their best work and it showed.”
The series might strike a sense of familiarity in brown girls of various ethnicities and nationalities as they watch these women of color unabashedly discuss sex, kiss, and laugh with each other on screen. It’s much like the lives of people of color every day, but it’s rarely showcased in this way.
“The entire series is all people of color,” says Bailey. “There [are] no white people, including extras. The world [doesn’t] crumble or change when there’s no white people. People are still loving and fucking.”
Brown Girls is out in early 2017. We’re waiting!