The Come Up
The Come Up uses slam poetry to tell a unique coming of age story about Chicago high schoolers that have to deal with violence, depression, sexuality and lack of quality education. This show will be an inspirational voice for teenagers to stand up for what they believe in and invoke change.
Inclusion StatementLead by a black female director, The Come Up features a predominantly black cast and crew. The stories being told are based off of slam poems written by people of color that bring light to underprivileged communities and topics that society deems them "too young" to discuss.
About The Project
THE COME UP follows three Chicago high schoolers who use slam poetry to navigate their increasingly complicated lives. The pilot centers on Jazzy, a southside Chicago high schooler who is struggling to fully discover her voice as a slam poet. Within this search, we are intoduced to her friend's L and Tori, both of which are mentored by Jazzy's older brother Dre. Dre is a high school senior and up-and-coming rapper in Chicago who is currently preparing for the biggest show of his career. After a tragic event forces them to come together, they will express their thoughts and emotions the only way they know how: poetically.
Louder Than A Bomb
Louder Than A Bomb (LTAB) is the world's largest youth poetry festival. LTAB is an annual event hosting over 1,000 youth poets for a month of Olympic-style poetry bouts, workshops, and special events. Students representing schools and community groups in the Chicago area perform original solo and group poems in a tournament-style competition.
LTAB is special to us because the cast competed in LTAB during high school. Ireon Roach, who plays Jazzy, won the individual finals in 2016. The team, which Lawren Carter (Eleanor 'L' Barrett), Tevion Lanier (Tori) and Ireon were a part of, made it to the finals and performed for over 4,000 people. This pilot is the beginning of our characters' journey into a LTAB style competition. We hope to include current Chicago high school poets in our production and future episodes to continue to give a voice to rising artists.
This story is important to tell right now because we are at a point when people are not feeling heard. Teenagers today are growing up in arguably the most devisive climate in recent history. We feel that we can inspire the teens of today the same way young adults inspired us. Teenagers today need a voice that accurately speaks for them. They need a voice that will speak about injustice, social class, education, sexuality and politics in a way that makes people not only listen, but understand. With your contribution, we are one step closer to making that happen.
Once we complete production and post-production, we will be submitting the pilot to festivals such as SXSW, Sundance, New York Television Festival, among others. We have had some bites from people in California about wanting to see the finished pilot, so hopefully you'll see us on a network before you know it!
Where does the money go?
First, we would love to thank you for donating! Truly, no donation is too small when it comes to this project. Your money will go towards covering all of our costs for production. Here's a brief breakdown:
Actors: This is a SAG-AFTRA project, which means we are able to cast some of the best actors around. It also means that we need to pay agent fees, contribute to the actors' pension and health plans, and have worker's comp insurance.
Crew: Did you know that crew positions are the most overlooked and underpaid positions when it comes to independent projects? We're trying to change that. Aside from daily meals, we are going to give as many crew members as possible a stipend for their work. FUN FACT: If we are lucky enough to raise more than our goal, all additional funding will go towards parying more crew members!
Locations: Considering we're telling a story about high schoolers, it's fairly important we have a high school! The main cost of our location budget goes toward securing a high school for 3 days and paying any employees and security the school requires.
For me details, check out our WishList page!
We just want to say thank you one more time. Whether you've donated money or your social media by sharing this project with your followers, you are making our dream one step closer to becoming reality. If you haven't already done so, please follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @TheComeUpChi and be sure to stay updated!
Use the WishList to pledge cash and loan items - or - Make a pledge by selecting an incentive directly.
About This Team
E.J. NiBlack-Gray is a senior Cinema Arts & Science major, with a concentration in film directing and editing, at Columbia College Chicago. E.J. has been a part of productions such as ‘Skin Deep’ a D.Roe Visual that was the winner the Los Angeles Film awards, a Columbia College Chicago Graduate Thesis Film, and several of her own directing intensive film productions acquired throughout her college career. Her ultimate goal is to become a well- known film director utilizing her technical knowledge and experience acquired in collegiate education.
(Director of Photography)
Donijah Collier is from New Haven, Connecticut. After moving to Chicago, Illinois to study at Columbia College Chicago, he then graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Cinema and Television Arts with a concentration in Cinematography. Finding inspiration throughout the colors and compositions of the world, he has used this as a guide to express himself as a creative professional. Collier has realized the importance of reinventing the types of stories that are being told today. He aspires to tell diverse new narratives that will influence, and impact our society emotionally, culturally, politically as well as socially, through his unique visual storytelling.
Justin has lived in Chicago since he was six. His background is in acting, having worked with many Chicago theatre companies. More recently, he has followed his passion for writing and producing. Through studying at Columbia College Chicago, Justin has been able to produce multiple web series and shorts. Aside from The Come Up, he is currently developing two other series.
(Jasmine "Jazzy" Edwards)
Ireon Roach is a Chicago-bred poet, playwright and performer currently pursuing her BFA in Theatre Arts/BA in Sociology at Boston University. Her writing has appeared in various collegiate readers such as Hoochie Feminist Mag with plays in ReGround Theatre Festival and Commision Theater’s @Will short play festival. She was last seen in SCHOOL GIRLS; or the African Mean Girls Play at SpeakEasy Stage Company and Blood at the Root with Jackalope Theatre and The Yard Theatre Company. Film/television credits include Chicago P.D. as well as principal roles in Terrence Thompson’s ‘Drive Slow’ (2017) and Jennifer Reeder’s ‘Knives and Skin’ (2019). Ireon is represented by Paonessa Talent.
Tevion Devin Lanier
(Producer, Tori Brewer)
Tevion was last seen in MONSTER (Steppenwolf Theater), and HOW WE GOT ON (Haven Theatre). Television credits include CHICAGO PD (616), EMPIRE (511), and SOUTH SIDE (108). Tevion is a multi-dimensional DIY Artist born and raised in the City of Chicago. His self-produced debut album 11:11 is available on all streaming platforms under his stage name, Tevo. Tevion also designs and creates his own clothing entirely from scratch. His brand FLAWED Apparel will release its first official collection in 2020. Tevion is represented by Gray Talent.
(Eleanor 'L' Barrett)
Lawren is a 21 year old artist reigning from Chicago, IL. She writes her own poems, raps, & embodies others artistry through her acting abilities. Throughout her years of creation, she’s been apart of AT&T’s “It’s a (773) thing” performing at one of their stores and an event at the Promontory. She’s also performed at local venues for promoters within the Chicago region. During her earlier years of performance she won the Chicago Regional Finals of the August Wilson Monologue Competition, made her debut in the Chicago Tribune and Suntimes a total of 3 times, and continues to express her truth within her music. You can find more information about her through social media for more music and updates pertaining to her art work.