James Bland returned to his old stomping grounds to give an advanced screening of his new series Giants, on Wednesday, in the School of Journalism and Graphic Communications Lecture Hall. Bland is the creator, writer and leading actor in Giants, which will debut on Issa Rae’s YouTube Channel.
Debuting at 8 p.m. ET on January 25, Giants is an original series about the day to day lives of three black millennials learning who they are and their purpose in the world. Family acceptance, mental illness, police brutality and unemployment were just a few of the topics highlighted in the first episode.
The executive producers of the series include actor, Jussie Smollett from the ABC hit show Empire writer, producer and actress, Issa Rae from HBO’s Insecure.
The same YouTube channel that will debut Giant is known for showcasing Rae’s critically-acclaimed Awkward Black Girl series. Bland has directed short films and web series for the channel in the past.
SJGC student, Nyasha Baly, enjoyed the screening and noted how refreshing it was to see quality content on a Youtube platform.
“I thought the video was very enticing, vibrant, authentic and urban,” Baly said. “Issa Rae was a great executive producer for Giants and with James Bland being an alumna, I am very proud.”
Bland was no stranger to production both in front and behind the camera. As a student in the School of Business and Industry Program Bland decided he wanted to create films. His first hands-on experience was helping fellow rattler, Will Packer, promote This Christmas. He has since worked on films such as Burlesque, Takers and Death at a Funeral.
SBI Assistant professor, Dr. Atira Charles, and her family have personally known Bland for many years. Charles always knew Bland would be successful no matter what he did.
“One of the things I find about James and the work he does, is that he’s consistent about it,” Charles said. “He would produce things and even if he only had five viewers, he would create the next one. He never got defeated.”
Though he did not pursue a career in business, the 2008 graduate still uses the critical thinking skills that he learned while in school. Bland credits FAMU for giving him the tools it takes to be successful in the industry.
“My experiences at FAMU really prepared me. I feel like I can compete against the best the world has to offer”, said Bland. “The development as a person, the tenacity, just those people skills or those marketing skills… I applied all of those things to my project and it helped me just be more than an artist, but a businessman.”
After the screening, Bland held a Q&A session where he gave tips on the following: a career in TV and film, the realities of being in the industry, and how to navigate through the highs and lows of life. He also took photos and signed copies of Giants posters.
Be sure to catch the series premiere of Giants on Issa Rae’s YouTube channel.
Those looking to keep up with new content from James can go his website jamesblandfilms.com and follow @GiantsTheSeries on all social media platforms.