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Meet Neima Patterson of Sad-Ass Black Folk in South LA

Today we’d like to introduce you to Neima Patterson.

So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
“Here she goes with another story,” my friend sighs as I explain my thoughts on a topic the best way I know how, with an anecdote. So, my friend is right. There’s always a story. My love for stories has navigated my life. Growing up, I immersed myself in stories through writing, dancing, and acting. After exploring film and multimedia performance while majoring in World Arts and Cultures/Dance at UCLA, I knew that it was time to transition into seriously pursuing filmmaking. I then took three years at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts to hone my comedic voice through writing and producing. I co-founded Peachyland to share these skills along with multimedia art shows and edifying events.

I found a love for using my network and access to help others, so we created an event series at Peachyland that featured professional panels, free headshots, resume books, and giveaways from sponsors like Passion Planner. In doing this, I found my love for telling stories and throwing events comes from a deep love for service, helping people, making them smile, and making them think. But through this exploration, I knew it was also time to help myself by finally creating a body of work that gave my comedic voice, my passion for my South LA community, and my commitment to mission-driven stories a platform. So, when my friend Joel Boyd approached me about co-creating a web series called “Sad-Ass Black Folk,” everything started coming together. It was an opportunity to discuss black mental health, help people, and give my comedic voice a platform.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Every obstacle is information. I’ve learned these obstacles always mean one of four things: 1. Stop and reassess, 2. Slow down, 3. Speed up or 4. Change direction. The most difficult part about obstacles, tension or adversity is not the disturbance itself but listening to which of these four things I should do next. It’s easy to get stuck on a bumpy road but it’s an opportunity to reinvent a new process that’s more efficient. I could have stopped when my first web series got basically no views but instead I changed direction. I should have given up when my first blog ended when my partners left me without reason but instead I co-created a new endeavor, Peachyland.

I could have stopped when the Peachyland event series hit a plateau in attendance but instead slowed down to reassess where I could apply the same mission to something bigger. I could have stopped when my film school shorts didn’t make it into festivals but, instead, I sped up and found a way to create content outside of the university. And I used all of that experience to make a bigger splash with my current endeavor, “Sad-Ass Black Folk.” Because of those bumpy roads, I now know how to approach sponsors, hook an audience, write and produce well-executed content, and throw entertaining events. Most importantly, I now know how to shift gears, be flexible, follow momentum, and trust the path. You can either let adversity sink you or teach you how to be a better swimmer. And as the wise fish Dory once said, “just keep swimming.”

I’ll also say, the endeavors I consider unsuccessful are also things many people are still finding the courage to do. When you get used to a new normal, a new level of success, it’s always important to remember what you achieved. While all of those “failures” seem like a small feat now, they were huge accomplishments for my past self. Part of accepting failure has also been learning gratitude. Not everything has gone as planned or been as viral as I had hoped, but I am grateful for the playgrounds of learning that I’ve had through my various endeavors over my career as a creative.

Please tell us about Sad-Ass Black Folk.
Sad-Ass Black Folk is a daring, comedic web series that serves as a platform for honest conversation surrounding mental health for young black folk today. The series is a movement that offers tangible information, practical resources, and community support through not only the show but its accompanying website, interactive social media, and edifying events. We have a three pronged approach to our platform:
1. The Series: After deciding grad school is wack, Preston, a socially inept, aspiring black psychologist, brings together a group of South L.A. misfits for a homemade group therapy “case study”, only to discover his own demons. He finds it difficult to usurp control of a sour-patch sidekick, a trust fund scammer, a sanctimonious activist, an EBT queen, an Eeyore sadboy, a nerdy hermit, and a hood hippie – all battling serious inner issues. After encouraging these “patients” for weeks to be honest with themselves, they ultimately discover he’s been hiding what he’s going through more than them.
2. Information: We share information about mental health facts and resources through our social media channels and website platform with Quotes from our five mental health consultants and tips from qualified sources through research and our consultants.
3. Community: We foster community to encourage open dialogue and healing through community events with live entertainment and fellowship, real stories on our social media, and sponsored workshops and informational events on mindfulness and meditation to enlighten attendees on mental health issues and how to properly seek help.

We aren’t just a web series, we are a platform. Already, our DMs have become an anonymous confessional for folk that just need to express their frustrations. Our tips and quotes are enlightening folk and encouraging them to be more open and we just launched two weeks ago. We wanted to talk about it AND be about as best we could. We involved black mental health professionals in the process to make sure we weren’t guessing based on our own experiences. We did our homework and continue to as we create a space for this conversation. The web series is merely the vehicle to get people to listen.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
To stay afloat in this world that is constantly changing, I’ve learned that I have to be adaptable. What can go wrong will go wrong. The thing, partnership, sponsor, or person you’re relying on to execute your next step can fold at any moment. But what are you putting your faith in? Are you putting more weight on your purpose and your project or the thing that you think will elevate that project to the next level? If your vision is going to the next level, it doesn’t matter how it gets there as long as it does. So, when they fold, find the next avenue for acceleration. Adapt to the changes because there will be change. Peoples intentions won’t always be followed up by action. So, I’ve learned to keep my poise and adapt.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Trailer stills shot by Alexis McDonough

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