When I set out to write the screenplay for Nonprofit, I originally wanted to capture all of the hilarious but often challenging moments that I and those of my colleagues and friends have experienced in working within the nonprofit sector. How had a show about nonprofit life not been written about yet?!
But as I worked through the script with each revision, workshopped it with different groups of writers, filmmakers, and colleagues, and gathered the nerve to actually launch a crowdfunding campaign to raise money to film it, I realized that this show isn’t about me and what my circle of nonprofit workers have experienced anymore. The project is SO much more than that now.
Like every start of a grassroots organizing campaign, you need to set goals so you know what you’re working towards. When you know what your goals are you are more strategic with your time, energy, and resources and we at Nonprofit know that we are limited in all of these.
Our goals for Nonprofit are:
- Raise the visibility of Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) in the media. We know that there has been an emergence of more AAPI actors in mainstream films and television and Nonprofit seeks to contribute to the growing list of projects that feature more AAPI characters with nuanced and complex identities.
- Present multiple ways activism can look like, in particular how cultural work/arts activism can shift narratives. There isn’t one way to be an activist and Nonprofit seeks to demystify the idea that activism can only look one way. Activism is hard work but it takes a community and ultimately a movement in order to make social change.
- Challenge the model minority myth. Part of raising the visibility of AAPI in the media is offering more identities, experiences, and narratives that show what it means to be AAPI today. When we have the opportunity to provide more stories of what it means to be AAPI, we begin to shift the narratives that often lead to informing harmful policies that impact AAPI communities in real ways.
- Provide opportunities for people of color performers and production team members to work and contribute to this project. This project has a mixture of folks that have never acted in their life (myself included!) and those that have a large array of projects under their belt. We want to ensure that those that are able to work on this indie project get the experience and access they need to work on other projects in the future. And we know that not only do we need more POC in front of the camera, but it’s just as important to have POC behind the camera too, whether it’s in directing, producing, and writing.
- Offer a counter narrative to the show Portlandia. Nonprofit is specifically based in Portland for a reason. After living here for over 7 years during an era that Portlandia really helped shape in the perception of what Portland appears to be for those who don’t live here, the narrative that the show put out there ultimately painted the tropes that we have come to associate Portland with now – snobby bicyclists, “feminist” bookstore owners, and a mayor that plays in a reggae band (also, our former Mayor Sam Adams appeared in a few Portlandia episodes…) – and left out a HUGE chunk of the community that actually lives in Portland. We want to be at a point in the future where when folks bring up Portland in conversation, no longer will they cringe and say, “oh you mean that dreaded show Portlandia?” but they say, “Oh Portland! Like the show Nonprofit, that wonderful show with all the people of color in it? Yeah that’s totally how it is here.”
We know that we’re aiming high with this project and that our goals are ambitious, but why not aim high? Why not be ambitious? Why not try to go where others haven’t yet? If we don’t, who will?
As always, you can back the project on our Seed&Spark campaign. Don’t forget to share with friends, family, and everyone in your life! We got 24 days left of the campaign – will you help us keep up the momentum?