My name is Sharee Silerio and I'm a writer and filmmaker living and working in St. Louis, MO. This July and August, I am shooting my next short documentary - "Black Girl, Bleu" - a conversation with Black women about the mental health challenges they've been through, face and have overcome.
The "Strong Black Woman" stereotype, among others, has created a cloud of shame, hopelessness and fear surrounding mental health to the point where it seems like our only option is to suffer in silence rather than seek the healing we so desperately need and desire. I know, because I have been here many times before.
I remember that one day, as a child, I sat on my parents' bed, looking out of their backyard-facing window with the sun beaming in my eyes. It was a beautiful day, but one that also shed light on my inner sorrows.
Staring at the bright, blinding, yellow rays, I was praying, asking God to make my skin lighter. I grew up in a neighborhood where very few, if any people looked like me, so I often felt out of place. My feelings became even more intense after a classmate told me, "you're ugly because you're black.”
A quiet child, I held a lot in, so writing and watching movies, music videos and TV shows became my refuge. Expressing myself through poetry; recording myself lip syncing, dancing to music, and reciting monologues on the family camcorder; and directing films allowed me to be and see myself. Though I found my peace, I was still so broken. Not knowing my worth, my gifts, my glory or my truth left me void of self-love and full of the nasty things people said to me, low self-esteem, anger, pain and anxiety.
In college, my passions for writing and films merged when I enrolled in film studies courses and wrote my first screenplay. My "hobby" and natural gifts became one, but the pieces of my broken soul would not begin mending until I was almost 30 years old.
As a writer, director, producer and blogger, I am on a mission to use my work to empower women to seek mental, spiritual and emotional wholeness while inspiring them to love themselves unconditionally. The purpose for each of my projects is to affirm, heal and empower, and "Black Girl, Bleu" is no different.
It is often difficult for the people around us to see that we are suffering when we are smiling, being promoted at work, making moves in our businesses or "balancing" our careers, families and love lives. It can be hard to make sense of depression, anxiety or an eating disorder when we are deemed "successful" in others' eyes.
Through this documentary, I want to deconstruct the stigmas surrounding mental health; help those around us realize that mental illness does not "look" any particular way; create a safe, loving place for black women to share their truth; and help black women experiencing the same challenges see that they are not alone and that healing is possible. I also want black women to know that they matter, their pain matters and they are loved.
"Black Girl, Bleu" will feature interviews with black women who have or are currently experiencing a mental health crisis; conversations with therapists regarding the particular mental health challenges black women face; and resources to cultivate healing and self-love. During all interviews, a licensed therapist will be on-site.
Here's a short doc I wrote, directed and produced about a young woman who used her pain to help other women heal from theirs. It was invited to screen at last year's St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase and the St. Louis International Film Festival. I hope you enjoy it!
If you believe that the world needs more inspiring content like this, I would love for you to join me in uplifting and redefining what it is and means to be a black woman in America.
Last year, I received an Artist Support Grant from the Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis to purchase equipment so I can make this project, and now I am ready to make my vision a reality. All donations from this campaign will go towards hiring a film crew, editing, renting a studio for filming, booking a screening location and craft services (meals for crew and participants). Everyone who donates will receive a credit in the "Special Thanks" section.
I appreciate your time and attention, and hope that you will assist me in helping others by creating content that affirms, heals and empowers. Blessings!