! It’s Anjanette Levert. How are you? Good I hope. Thanks for taking a look at my website and taking a couple of minutes to get to know me.
I wholeheartedly believe every person has a story to tell, AND I assert that each person probably can tell a couple of fantastic stories that need to be heard. That’s why I decided, with the encouragement of my mother, to become a journalist. As a direct product of the Atlanta Civil Rights Movement, I consider myself a 2.0 civil rights advocate. Journalism, I learned, is not about being objective, but for me is a way to tell the truth about stories and people that were previously told in one dimension or a narrow vision.
Speaking of vision, I had been taking pictures since I was 12 years old. I bought my own Pentax 35mm manual body when I was in high school. This is back in the day when we used film and you better know what you were doing otherwise you’d have rolls of black (or white) negatives. In my last semester of college at Northwestern University, I took a graduate level Social Anthropology class and did a photo documentary project and LOVED IT! And I watched terrible enthnographic films that I said to myself, “Someone got paid to do that? I can definitely do better than that!” Such youth and hubris, but without it, where would we all be?
But my dilemma was now that I’ve found my calling in life, how do I learn this craft? Do I stay in school and change courses of study, right when I’m supposed to finish school? Or do I leave and stay the course of journalism. I decided I would have to learn documentary making on the job.
Well, I first went to the Dominican Republic where I worked for the country’s English-language tourist newspaper. I returned to Atlanta and got into video production while working retail. A childhood friend was working at CNN and told me to apply and a year and a half later I started working for them.
I made my first film because I was angry. “Shake It Up, Shake It Down” tells the story of Atlanta’s Black College Spring Break, also known as Freaknik from the viewpoint of the students and alumni of the Atlanta University Center where the event originated in 1982.. I had only meant to be there a couple of years. My plan was to get into the long-form journalism departments or to the documentary department. Just as I was set to have an interview with the head of Turner Broadcasting’s documentary department, Ted Turner sold his company to Time Warner. Within a short time, the documentary department was dissolved and long-form journalism was drastically cut.
I made this film because I was angry and frustrated watching local news coverage, and then national coverage as the event grew because it was being narrowly reported with no historical perspective, especially when I had a completely different experience of Freaknik growing up. Then to add insult to injury, I was working at a news station, making suggestions about coverage and found myself ignored. So decided put on my “big gurl panties” and make a film. This film screened at festivals around the Southeast.
My second film was made as graduate film student at City College of New York, “The Wedding Proposal.” It is a sometimes painful, funny and sobering personal journey film where I deal with my options for marriage and a family. The film has screened at over 30 film festivals. It aired numerous times on BET Jazz Network, and it has an educational market distributor, Filmakers Library.
My life is dedicated to creating images and content that shows the humanity of peoples of color and to support others who are doing the same. Therefore, I co-founded Cinema Sisters, to empower and support women of color documentary filmmakers in New York City. I ran for three years the Just Write Now series, to get writers writing, especially those earning their living not as writers. I’m a die hard fan and contributor to BlackandBrownNews.com. And I’m a long time member of Black Documentary Collective and the Harlem Arts Alliance Screenwriter’s Workshop.
It’s now time to make a lot more films. I have several ideas that have been with me for years that I’m developing. But the two films that must be made are “The Marriage Game” the feature-length version of “The Wedding Proposal” and “Swim Freaks” a narrative film about a suburban teenage girl becomes a lifeguard and drama that happens after she’s assigned to the ghetto pool.
Outside of media I am love to challenge my body, and mind, through swimming, biking, running and yoga. I play the cello and I’m a fierce salsa dancer.