Series takes aim at black stereotypes

Have you ever wanted to spark a change but worried that your goals were out of reach?

Cheer up and be inspired by the story of Lamont Carswell who says no matter what the task “it can be done.”

A 21-year-old political science Florida State University student, Carswell got his inspiration for the independent drama “My Brothers’ Keeper” after watching television shows that seemed to depict blacks based solely on stereotypes.

“I felt like minorities were underrepresented on TV and I wanted to see something on television that I was familiar with – something I could relate to,” Carswell said.

That ambition provided the brainchild for the three-episode drama series that Carswell co-directed and produced with Keisha Ansley, a 22-year-old FSU alumna.

During the auditioning process January 2006, the pair had an open casting call and also utilized Facebook to notify students of film auditions.

At the open casting call Jared Lee Wofford, a 24-year-old business administration alumnus, was selected to star in the film as Darius.

Wofford, who began acting two years ago, said, “the most enjoyable aspect of the project has been having to really understand what your character is going through. It’s a very personal journey.”

As for Ansely, “the exchange of ideas, directing and getting into someone’s head (and) making discoveries about their character” have been the best parts of it all.

“In acting it’s very important to be able to relate to your character in order to give your portrayal a more realistic take,” Wofford said.

“In many cases, in order to understand the character, you have to look at the causes instead of just taking things at face value. From a character development standpoint, the experience has been enlightening.”

“My Brothers’ Keeper,” which will premiere in May, addresses issues concerning family relations, sexuality, domestic violence and racism. Carswell said “(the show is) not preachy. The film shows real situations with real outcomes.”

As for networking, Carswell and Ansley have several options. By taking the film straight to DVD it would become the first independent black DVD drama series. However, their long-term goal is to expand on the three-episode pilot they currently have and, with the support of production companies, finish the season with a full 12 or 13 episodes.

“Another possibility is doing an on-air television show,” Ansley said. But Carswell admits that he is worried about taking the show to TV companies.

“They can shelve it, or even cancel it, and the film is much more than that. It’s not another urban sitcom.”

Presently the decision on how the film will debut is still up in the air, but Wofford said “at this stage, we’re using all avenues as aggressively as we can.”

The cast consists of 15 main characters, both FAMU and FSU students and alumni alike.

With the cast and crew selected and all the scenes nearly filmed, the last ingredient in making everything come together is viewership.

Ansley said, “even though the production market is geared toward 18- to 25-year-olds, there aren’t any black drama series for us.”

Carswell added that “there is a need and want for ‘My Brothers’ Keeper,’ but we depend on the audience to reinforce it through their support of the film.”

Carswell stressed the challenges and victories of tackling an uphill battle.

“Our film was done against the odds, and I know that that can keep people from following their pursuits, but I want everyone to know that it can be done.”

Contact Ayanna Martinez at