Raquel Scott is a multiple award-winning film producer, writer, educator and cultural immerser.
In this exclusive interview with Diaspora Digital News, we get to know more about the vibrant and forward-thinking Raquel, and what drives her on her mission to unite the African diaspora.
Raquel’s passion for the arts emerged at a very young age. At age three, she would request to watch movies each night, and growing up she was always the videographer and photographer on family vacations. By sixth grade, she was enrolled in a TV Production class, and then spent 12 years studying or working in multiple areas of photography, film and theater. Her years in middle school saw her become an award-winning analog photographer for a photo she shot and developed. She also spent some years touring as an actress in the stage play “On Both Sides of The Wall”, and runway modeling across the US for Karl Kani, Melody Ehsani, the Bronner Bros. International Beauty Show, several couture bridal shows and a host of other shows for various fashion designers and hair stylists.
After wanting to be a lawyer for over a decade, it turned out that she did not do so well in the LSAT test and so, instead of applying for law school she decided to make her hobby of filmmaking a career; earning an MFA in Film and TV Productions while focusing her studies on editing and producing.
With this background, what inspired Raquel to take up the mission of producing films geared towards Pan African representation?
“I wanted to see myself represented in films, but many that I watched with black women included characters that I couldn’t relate to and ones that offended and embarrassed me as a black woman”, she tells Diaspora Digital News.
“I also love to learn, and in 2012, a film I produced titled “Doorways” screened at the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles. Prior to the festival opening, I began volunteering with the organization. I was able to watch dozens of films by black people throughout the world and it was incredible learning and volunteering with them for several years”, she adds.
During Raquel’s first trip to the African continent, the experience was completely different than what she expected based on the limited view of Africa shown in the media.
“Many African cities are very developed, maybe not as some places in Western societies. They have paved streets, luxurious cars, mansions; wear designer clothes and have high end restaurants and hotels. It’s sad that in 2022 most people in the world don’t know that there are billionaires in Africa. These perceptions need to change”, she said as she chronicled her experiences.
She also added that the “Africans don’t like black people” rumors that she heard for years was wiped out. “I connected to my people in my homeland and I believe that every single black person needs to experience that, so I’m going to work on making that happen. When I moved to Ghana, people who’d never had an interest in visiting Africa outside of Egypt for example were calling me and wanting to visit me there. I even discussed purchasing land and building a home with my family; who are very interested in doing that now. It was me living there and posting about how great of a time I was having, plus the major push of Ghana’s ‘Year of Return’ that really started exposing how beautiful Africa was to my network.”
In addition, being part of the film making industry gives Raquel a deeper insight about the general state of affairs, including stereotypes. As she puts it: “As humans we equally have universal characteristics and emotions, but Hollywood especially leads one to believe that only those other than persons of colour have experiences that other cultures and races relate to, which is absolutely false. It is my responsibility to use my American privilege, education and resources to spread the truth by creating stories and producing movies.”
Raquel’s roots drive her to be so passionate in trying to unite the African diaspora. She opens up to us on this deeply: “I am a 9th generation American born descendant of formerly enslaved Africans and so, my family has a long history with the USA. The furthest ancestor I’ve traced was a man that was born in Africa. During his lifetime, enslaved Africans were not counted as people, they were property, so there are no records of him or any family members that I’ve found outside of one son. I don’t have any information on my paternal lineage nor my mother’s paternal lineage because again, we were not counted as people and I have not found any records for older generations. Having my family’s legacy destroyed and being detached from African culture and from a tribal connection, and a country of origin has been difficult for me as a person who cares deeply about family and lineage”, she recounts.
PowHer House Entertainment, where Raquel is Founder and CEO has a mission and purpose to unite the African diaspora.
Raquel is currently working on visiting every country on the African continent, making connections there and seeing how to help display the beauty, diversity, and culture of every country. She hopes to help build the film industries in these countries, build school, help develop the education systems as well as have study abroad opportunities for students in college, especially those at historically black colleges and universities; and is open to collaborations in this regard.
Raquel’s journey in the film industry has not been without challenges – from not having connections or a mentor to a segregated Hollywood space where it is not easy to break in as a person of colour. For example, with her tremendous talent, decades of experience and Master’s degree, she was offered internship, entry level jobs or even temporary promotions or leadership positions in every industry job she’s ever had.
“I was never hired permanently, nor was my pay increased in any of those situations. I was always kept at the bottom through my promotions even though it was proven that I was overqualified for the positions I was hired for. I came out of film school when Netflix wasn’t very popular and YouTube wasn’t monetized, and so I had to get industry support in order to produce and distribute feature films”, she tells us.
For Raquel, the biggest change agent is the need to challenge the media. She aptly chronicles her thoughts here:
“In the US the only things we’re really shown or taught about Africa are from sad commercials showing starving children who are about to be orphaned because their parents have AIDS for example, and asking for our donations. We’re only shown the negative, and all countries with African descendants in Africa, Central America, South America, and North America need to enforce that their media with global audiences start reporting on more than just poverty and famine. We also need to challenge the media within other countries to do the same. There’s power in unity and we need to stand up for ourselves and each other.”
She also added that “we also need to push for ‘Africa’ to stop being clickbait. If something is happening in a specific African country, it needs to include that country in the headline not just ‘Africa’. People don’t know that there are 54 countries in Africa or over 3000 ethnic groups because they think it is one country. The more we make people aware of the different countries, the different lifestyles and especially all of the wealth and beauty, the more our pride and interest will grow.”
She further went on to comment that since Africa provides 30 percent of the world’s resources, the continent and its people must benefit from them.
“The diamond mines and land filled with gold aren’t owned by us. The natural resources on the African continent aren’t being processed in Africa by Africans, and instead of it growing their nation’s wealth it’s costing them money. This needs to change”, Raquel said expressing her views on the matter.
Traveling the world and immersing herself in other cultures is by far Raquel’s favorite way to spend her time.
“I’ve learned a great deal about myself, as I’ve experienced how other people live by traveling. I incorporate elements from different cultures into my life to help me grow as a human and become the best woman that I can be. I love spending time with my family too”, she reveals.
Raquel also loves the beach, amusement parks, comedy shows, karaoke and many other interesting activities.
Visit PowHer House Entertainment‘s website for more information on Raquel’s work.
Interview by: Theresa R. Fianko
Content / Image Attribution: All images used with the permission of Raquel Scott & PowHer House Entertainment
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