CHEO TYEHIMBA TAYLOR is an award-winning writer, author, producer, director, and creator and executive producer of the Game Changers Project (GCP), a national film fellowship for emerging filmmakers of color. In 2012, he led the GCP Fellows to produce 30 micro-documentary films for 30 non-profits across the country that advocate for Black men and boys and other under-represented groups. Cheo was nominated for Ebony Magazine’s national MANifest Award for the work, which focuses on elevating the conversation about Black Male Achievement.
A graduate of the UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television (Screenwriting Track) and the City University of New York Graduate School in Creative Writing, he’s written and produced for various networks, foundations, blogs, and publications, including Comcast, HuffPostLive, Time Warner, the Ford Foundation, Open Society Foundations, MSNBC.com, Entertainment Weekly (as staff writer), People, Vibe, Essence, The Washington Post and others. His writing (both fiction and nonfiction) has been featured in many publications, blogs, books, and anthologies.
In 2015, he launched his production company, Game Changers Films, for which he wrote and produced “Rites,” a dramatic short film about fathers and sons, first haircuts, and lost innocence. “Rites” was an Official Selection and winner at several film festivals, screened at the 2015 American Black Film Festival, and was acquired by ASPIRE TV for broadcast on Comcast.
In 2016, he completed season one of the original web series, “Kingmakers of Oakland”- a docu-series about what it takes to break the school-to-prison pipeline in the public school system. As an indie filmmaker, Cheo is currently writing, producing, and directing several projects for development for various networks in 2017 and beyond.
To learn more, visit GameChangersFilms.com.
Follow: @cheotyehimba; @GameChangers007
Chris Chatmon, the executive director of the African American Male Achievement Program (AAMA), has a favorite saying that captures some of the motivation for bringing Kingmakers of Oakland to the big screen. To paraphrase, Chris often says, when it comes to African American males, television is really “Tell Lie Vision.” It’s something the young Kings in AAMA clearly know and believe.
I also believe we must empower young Black men to tell their vision, tell their own story. As a filmmaker who has also mentored Black youth over the years through rites of passage programs, this film has a special meaning to me. Watching them blossom from behind the lens as they redefine what it means to be Black, male, and educated in America was a privilege. Their voices are filled with humility, determination, confidence and a thirst for knowledge beyond textbooks. Their stories will captivate you and make you re-think what you know about what our public school system really needs, to quote an AAMA Instructor, to “upset the set up.”
Since the five episodes currently produced only offer a small glimpse of the full AAMA story, we are hopeful that our crowd-funding campaign will allow us to produce the larger narrative. Hopefully, when completed, this film will reveal what true systems change within an educational ecosystem can look like in the lives of students, one that does not ignore prevailing political, cultural, and pedagogical frameworks. Finally, to me, Kingmakers of Oakland represents what the philosopher and activist Franz Fanon spoke of when he said: “To educate the masses politically does not mean, cannot mean, making a political speech. What it means is to try, relentlessly and passionately, to teach them that everything depends on them; that if we stagnate it is their responsibility, and that if we go forward it is due to them too…”
For more about Cheo Tyehimba Taylor, visit http://gamechangersproject.org/the-team/cheo-tyehimba-taylor/