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I Need a Hero: Interview with Kai Soremekun

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In an unstable world where corruption runs rampant, women feel helpless and politicians gobble up more money and rights; there stands a lone hero to protect us. . . she is Fantastica! And all she asks in return for her tireless struggle against evil is: to find the hero within ourselves.

I found Fantastica, in a past issue of Bitch Magazine. Near the back, Bitch asked its reader if a female superhero was needed. There were female graphic novelists who were making waves in the industry and there was Kai Soremekun. Here was a black woman sporting a fierce afro, blue catsuit and a flowing cape to boot! As I read, I scribbled down her web address:

The website Chick boasts of novel idea that “Every Woman is a F*@king Superhero.” The site is a mix of self-help manual, blog, interactive scavenger hunt for the soul and of course an incredible webseries featuring Fantastica, the character Kai plays herself, a newly single, slightly depressed woman who is living out of her car while in hot pursuit of what could be a wild goose chase: Becoming a superhero and fighting injustice.

Kai Soremekun Facts:

  • Canadian born
  • Attended the American Musical and Dramatic Academy
  • Trained dancer
  • Danced in a Keith Sweat music video!! (bitchin’ huh?)
  • Apart of a rap group called FLEXX (double bitchin’!)
  • Was a series regular on the Fox drama Medicine Ball
  • Super-powers: 
    • Longevity, apparently she comes from good genes. A lot of people in her family die at 98. Powerful number!
    • Seeing the hidden potential in others

Okay, so I’ve checked you out in Bitch and watched the first season of Chick, do you have season 2 up and going yet? I’m excited to check it out.

I’m excited too! We’re still in the process of writing season 2. Season 1 was a bit of a learning curve. I feel like, the way you get shit done is just do it, even if you’re not ready. And that’s what season 1 was like. I learned a lot and hopefully it will get even better this time around.

Nice! You’re in charge of all aspects of production. That can’t be cheap. How are you able to create and work hard for the money at the same time?

There was a period there, where I was jobless and basic needs were outweighing the creative stuff. I was on unemployment and that was really helpful, but I decided it was time to take a chance and get off. And as fate would have it, literally a month later, unemployment let me know: ‘Uh yeah, you’re cut off.’ It was completely unexpectedness and I freaked out a little, but this has been the best year for working. You definitely have to be aware of how you interact with your money. I’ve been doing commercials and I’ve even gotten a directing gig. I hope to get some more money from directing. Because that’s my goal, to slowly transition from being in front of the camera to directing behind the camera.

There are people who are don’t have the luxury of thinking about these creative things. They’re worried about their basic needs. Most kids forgo the creative drive in favor of going to school, getting a job and everything else will fall into place. Your thoughts?

That is crazy. There’s no guarantee for any of that. I don’t even advocate going to school. And I know people will say: “What?!” Maybe some people need school, but you really need to know what kind of person you are. Honestly, school for me is way too rigid and it’s hard to serve a purpose when you get out into the real world. You could learn how to hustle with a myriad of resources outside of school.

Sometimes school can beat the creativity out of kids. As a young girl did you grow up in an environment that fostered creative thinking?

Um no (laughs). My dad was a doctor, my mom a nurse. Everything in my household was logical. You were expected to go to school, then get a job. That’s it. I didn’t connect with my creative side until I was in high school. But I still spent a lot of years thinking I wasn’t all that creative. I had gone to a school for preforming arts, acted in commercials and still thought, “I have no creativity.” My natural tendency was to be very logical and I approached life from that way.

But then when I got out of that funky relationship, part of my exploration was figuring out how I got into that relationship. I was forcing myself to look deeper into my own decision making. I needed to break out and do something radical. But then I realized that I didn’t know what I liked! I didn’t know what kind of music I like or what kind design I liked for my apartment. I started doing crazy things, well, crazy for me. For example, I had these beige walls in my apartment and I decided I didn’t want to live in a beige apartment. So I painted the living room walls red. (She picks up her laptop and walks me from her office to the living room. The walls are a beautiful textured red, just screaming seduction and whimsy at the same time)

And it was crazy because the entire time I was painting, I was so stressed out. “What am I doing? What if this turns out terrible?” But now it’s my favorite room to hang out in. I don’t care what people tell you or what you keep believing about yourself, it’s never too late to find out something new about you. And the thing is, I think we’re all odd and weird, I mean that in a good way. But we get conditioned not do our odd thing or be ourselves.

I think a lot more women need to hear that. Definitely in a time where we don’t have a lot of awesome heroines to look up to. For every Tina Fey there’s a hundred Snookies.  Who’s telling girls it’s okay to be weird? 

Well unfortunately Tina Fey isn’t always in the spotlight. There’s no way she can compete with someone like Kim Kardashian. Especially when it comes to teenage girls. But I’m torn about the whole thing. I started this project out with an audience of late teens/early 20’s in mind. But I find my fans are women in their 30’s and 40’s. I thought, “huh.” But then I thought back to when I was that age. I thought I knew EVERYTHING and I didn’t want anyone telling me what to do! It’s not until you get to your late 20’s and you’re going through the shit, you realize, “Holy-Fuckin’-Shit! Things have not gone as planned. What am I doing??”

Things take a turn for personal when I admit to Kai that I’m that late 20-year-old right now. I have no idea how school has helped me, my job is soulless and I’m constantly worried about: “Are my tomatoes being picked by slave wage laborers?” Her advice is, “It gets better. Once you hit your 30’s, things mellow out a little. Until then you just gotta go through the shit!” I feel a little better that the malady I have, isn’t all in my head.

There’s this great episode where Fantastica is hell bent on preforming her superhero duties by stopping what appears to be a home invasion. She doesn’t have all the answers, but she tries anyway. We’ve lost the art of “Trying.” Is this an overarching theme to the show?

That’s one of my favorite episodes! And you’re right, it;s that feeling of fear holding us back. I just cannot think of a person who has accomplished great things without falling on their face during the process. I can’t. I felt I needed to make a character who is so committed to becoming a superhero that she’s almost blinded by it and has kinda lost her sense of judgement for a minute. It’s one of those things you have to go through! I wanted to make it funny in a way that says, “you know what, you can make a total ass of yourself and still be here tomorrow. Maybe you’ve bruised your ego a little, but dust yourself off and try it again!”

 Kai goes on to explain how that episode was loosely inspired by the Henry Louis Gates Jr. incident. The Harvard scholar was actually arrest because, to neighbors, he was a “black man breaking into a house on their block.” It was his house, of course. That all came to light after the arrest. Kai was making a social comment on misjudging events. She wants us to acknowledge our humanness. We’re so complex. “You’re gauranteed to fuck up!”

I’m so interested in our relationship with fear. I feel like I need to teach a course on fear, how we’re conditioned to let it prevent us from doing things, how it makes us stop trying. But I’m also fascinated with the idea of people paying to see a horror film or ride a rollercoaster. They want to be frightened at a safe controllable distance. How can we flip that around so that the everyday fears can be just as exhilarating? Those everyday things that hold us back, why can’t those be seen as personal challenges?

Fear is hard to handle on your own. Do you have a pretty good support system with your project, Chick?

I didn’t at first, but I do now. The biggest lesson I learned was, “you can’t do this alone, not without a support system.” Season 1, I almost kill myself with all of the work I was doing. Season 2, I decided I needed a team. I hired writers and collaborators. I’ve also started assigning scripts to different writers. For this season, I started treating it like a real T.V. show. I wanted the experience of learning how to run a show and dealing with different personality, but I also wanted to learn how to delegate responsibilities. That way the project could be better. I love this project so much, I didn’t want to do it a disservice by working alone. If you’re so caught in your own space, you projects get so close to your face that you can’t see them anymore. To be in a room with other artists, with all of these ideas flying around, I feel like I’m in heaven!

Interview Cool-down

Favorite films: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Amelie for their strong complex female characters, beautiful scenic shots, romance and poetry.

Superman or Batman: His very human layers. We can connect and join him in his struggles. She doesn’t feel like she can connect with Superman in the same way. “Maybe it’s because he’s from another planet?”

Wonder Woman or Catwoman: Conflicted about this, maybe Wonder Woman. She thinks that the Halle Berry movie could have colored that decision.

The film that made you decide, “This is what I want to do”: Not necessarily a film but an old boyfriend that convinced her to go back to film school and learn directing. But if she had to pick a film to aspire to, American Beauty would be it. The journey of the main character’s evolution, his gaining confidence and our ability to identify with him, made the film brilliant.

Author: charishreid

Writer and Educator.

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