The comedic web-series following the lives of five women in Brazil
Hilarious, authentic and unapologetic!
SQÚAD is vibrant comedy series created by Helena Morgane and co-written by Sophie Duker. Described as a modern ode to women of the African diaspora, the series follows five women navigating life under the same roof in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Having devised a vision for the show, they now hope to raise $40,000 on Indiegogo to finish its development.
Help them reach their target
We caught up with Helena — the show's creator, on her inspiration for the series plus her experience of being an indie storyteller.
What initially inspired you to create this series?
I think as a black woman who has travelled quite a bit, my work ends up being influenced by that and I was inspired to create SQÚAD both because I wanted to feel represented as an non-African American actor and viewer, and because I thought it was time more voices of the diaspora were seen interacting together in one show.
Our diaspora get simplified twice, firstly because all people of color suffer from clichés and then because blackness in the media is typically African American. SQÚAD is an ode to black women and a way to reclaim my diaspora.
What was your experience of the diaspora in Brazil before you started making the series?
I've never been to Brazil, I've lived in Mexico and knew I wanted the show to be based in Latin America. Brazil has the second biggest Black population outside of Africa so it made sense, and it's important to show big cities that aren't necessarily in the Western world.
Also the Afro-Brazilian population seems to be invisible in the way we perceive Brazil worldwide so I know there's so much that can be tackled there.
Very true. How did you find your cast?
We have a temporary cast (and film crew) that were put together to create a trailer on Indiegogo. We did a casting in London over 2 days after spreading the casting call in several Facebook groups. The final cast will be chosen once Season 1 is funded. So support us before Nov 23!
Is this your first web series?
I have another project that's online, a docu-series called Kaleidoscope Stories. I don't really label my series as "webseries" because I'd love them to transcend to another platform at some point or at the very least showcase the best quality possible.
Kaleidoscope Stories was supposed to launch a year ago and the realities of being an indie storyteller delayed everything. The first episode is here. The following ones should come as soon as we wrap SQÚAD's Indiegogo campaign (which is incredibly time consuming)
Talking of the internet – you started the hashtag #reclaimingmydiaspora what are your thoughts on the responses and how would you define it?
I think it's still a bit early to define the response because it might evolve, but I see people getting excited. I'd love for more and more people to think of the hashtag when they post about their blackness.
It's been super humbling to receive the response of those featured so far, it's like knowing how vast our diaspora is, but to actually read words, anecdotes and see pictures of landscapes foods etc, it's powerful!! I've only had one African American person who thought we wanted to exclude her experience when really it's only about expanding the representation of blackness in a positive way.
Why did she think that?
I think we live in a very globalised world and America is very much a focus and African Americans are... American, so it might be challenging at times to not be centered, especially when there's no denying we're all marginalised.
I also think there's a lot of unlearning to do in the way black people treat each other (e.g people who know their African roots vs. people who don't, people who grew up on the African continent vs those who didn't...etc). We're so amazing, there's no need to put each other down. We have similarities and differences, in the best way so it's time to see that, and understand our power.
What would you like to achieve with the series?
I think my goal is always going to be to create collaborative spaces that uplift people of color through storytelling. Doing that full time would be magical.
Was your initial intention to have an all female cast?
Sisterhood fascinates me whether is blood of friendship. There's definitely going to be characters of different genders and ethnicities interacting with the main cast but black sisterhood deserves to be shown.
Finally, any tips for upcoming filmmakers on creating a series or fundraising?
I'd say follow your gut, be unapologetic and true to your vision. And surround yourself with people who are as passionate as you are about getting the mission done whether it's a series, a crowdfunding campaign, a film... It's about collaborating not competing. There is room for all of us to win.
Support the series here on Indiegogo
Creator and Actor (Taslim): Helena Morgane
Co-written by: Sophie Duker
Co-producer and researcher: Andresa Pinheiro Nunes
Social Media Strategist: Chauntelle Lewis
Video Editor: Cesar Valdez
Community Manager: Cesar Valdez
PR: Press Pillay
Interview by: Swakara Atwell-Bennett