Founder’s Feature: Kema Charles
Changing the future face of Hollywood
When Kema Charles moved to Hollywood from Pensacola, FL she had every intent on achieving her dream of being an actor, eventually working her up way to appearances on network television shows. But it was a chance occurrence while lending help to a friend that ended up shifting the direction of her life.
“I worked at a film school in Los Angeles starting in 2007 and one of the students there the first couple of years wanted to take a program home, and she wanted me to be a part of it,” Charles says. “I ended up being the director of operations of a program in Nigeria and seeing the impact it had on students there … that’s what birthed Lights Camera Discover.”
Today, Charles’s non-profit, Lights Camera Discover (LCD), uses the backdrop of film and television production to teach third graders to high-school seniors team-building and problem-solving skills. Its curriculum includes workshops on screenwriting, acting, digital filmmaking, editing, photography and computer coding/programming. Instructors include Hollywood veterans.
“Even though we’re teaching them filmmaking and the digital and performing arts, we’re [also] helping their social skills, their personality skills, as well as their creative skills,” Charles says.
And that’s something the local community in Phoenix where LCD is based has gotten behind. Five years into her launch, Charles is partnering with corporate, community and civic allies, including the city’s pro sports teams. The added support has allowed LCD to expand services and reach. This year will mark a first for LCD: monthly workshops throughout the summer.
Charles’s long-term goals for LCD include expanding into other markets and establishing a brick-and-mortar space in Phoenix. “We want to start hitting more cities,” Charles says. “We want to be able to touch all 50 states, and we want to be full time in our home city so the kids can always have somewhere to go.”
For Charles the ultimate goal is simple: make filmmaking and production accessible to all. The students who come through her program are being prepped to run sets, write scripts, launch and monetize their work. ”[Students] know they have the skills to compete with whoever is out there,” Charles says.
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