Dominique Fluker, Senior Contributor
I cover dynamic women of color and their careers.
Meet Renae L. Bluitt a Brooklyn, New York-based filmmaker, digital content creator, and PR consultant, who also serves as an advocate for Black women’s accurate representation in the media. With over a decade of experience, Renae has gained valuable insight into Black women entrepreneur’s narratives — a passion that she recently channeled into her first film as Creator and Executive Producer of the documentary, “She Did That.”
Bluitt’s first cinematic project, ‘She Did That.,’ explores the passionate pursuits of Black women and their entrepreneurship journeys. An extension of Renae’s In Her Shoes blog, ‘She Did That.’ offers an intimate peek inside the lives of four Black women entrepreneurs who continuously raise the glass ceiling for future generations. The film, which offers an up-close and personal look at Black women entrepreneurs, addresses topics like the funding gap for women of color.
There are approximately 1.9 million Black women-owned firms that employ over 376,500 staffers and generate $51.4 billion in total revenues. What drives Black women to turn their obstacles into opportunities and passions into profit? ‘She Did That.’ seeks to answer this question with the goal of inspiring the next generation of change agents.
Spotlighting well-respected industry leaders through exclusive, never-seen-before footage, ‘She Did That.’ features vulnerable conversations with four fly female entrepreneurs – Luvvie Ajayi (New York Times best-selling author, speaker and digital strategist), Lisa Price (Founder, Carol’s Daughter), Melissa Butler (founder, The Lip Bar) and Tonya Rapley (founder, My Fab Finance.) Their powerful testimonies as to how grit and perseverance set the stage for success reminds audiences that Black women are indeed bosses in business, embarking on their own ventures at six times the national average. ‘She Did That.’ is a timely and poignant documentary on Black women entrepreneurs who are building legacies and making history – a conversation that should not be missed.
Ahead of ‘She Did That’ premiering on Netflix today, we spoke with Bluitt about the overall concept for the film, why black women entrepreneurs need to be supported and how they will be inspired by this documentary.
Fluker: What was your inspiration behind creating your first cinematic project, She Did That?
Bluitt: Black women and the magic we create is the inspiration behind this film. As the fastest group of entrepreneurs in this country, we are literally turning water into wine in spite of the many obstacles we face on our entrepreneurial journeys. We do what it takes to build our brands and legacies with so much grace, and oftentimes we make it look effortless. This film was created to let the world know what it really takes to be a successful Black woman entrepreneur in this world. Platforms like social media only show us the results and the highlights, but “She Did That.” pulls back the curtain to reveal how and why we do it.
Fluker: She Did That is an uplifting documentary that explores the passionate pursuits of black women and their entrepreneurship journeys. Share the creative process for this film.
Bluitt: “She Did That.” is an extension of my blog titled “In Her Shoes” which gives readers an opportunity to walk in the shoes of their favorite women entrepreneurs. In 2016, after blogging for nearly a decade on the topic, I knew it was time to elevate the conversation and dig a little deeper. I wanted to explore entrepreneurship through a new medium, so after plenty of prayer and meditation, I decided that film was the medium I wanted to explore. I identified the women I wanted to feature, put together a team of talented creatives who were equally passionate about telling these stories and we started the pre-production process.
Throughout the filming process, we were very intentional about hiring Black women – from the spaces we rented to film in to the makeup artists we brought on for glam – we wanted this production to be by Black women and for Black women as much as possible. Filming continued throughout 2017 when we traveled to the Midwest to follow the lives of Luvvie in Chicago and Melissa Butler of The Lip Bar in Detroit. The main subject’s stories were supported through the voices of other successful women entrepreneurs featured in the film including Myleik Teele (curlBOX & My Taught You), Denequa Williams of Lit Brooklyn, Yasmin Quiles of Pop by Yaz!, Chioma Ngwudo of Cee Cee’s Closet, Ashaka Givens of Indigo Style Collective, Kim Hill of Radical Women, and Fifi Bell & Gwen Woods of The Crabby Shack. After nearly two years of filming, “She Did That.” premiered in New Orleans during a sold-out screening event at ESSENCE Festival! Sharing the film during such an iconic and celebratory moment for Black women was like a dream come true. The journey has been absolutely magical with screenings at HBCUs including Spelman College and Howard University, partnerships with organizations throughout the country in cities like Atlanta, Detroit, Charlotte, Los Angeles, Chicago, Louisville and international screenings in Bermuda and most recently, Accra, Ghana. The journey to our Netflix premiere has been absolutely magical and I’m beyond proud of how many lives this film is touching.
Fluker: Share your thought process on choosing the featured women highlighted in the documentary. What attracted you to their entrepreneurship journeys?
Bluitt: Black women are far from monolithic and entrepreneurship looks different for everyone. It was important for us to share the many faces and voices of Black women in business. This is the first documentary exploring entrepreneurship through the Black woman’s lens so I needed to hear from a woman like Lisa Price of Carol’s Daughter who has been in the game now for over 25 years and built her brand from the ground up in the 90’s, without access to the tools we use now like social media. I chose Melissa Butler because she’s truly disrupting the beauty industry, challenging the world’s very limited definition of beauty, and letting little brown girls and women of all hues know that they are enough. Luvvie’s story has always been intriguing to me because her career is a reminder that we can make a very successful living being our authentic selves. Whether she’s writing a book, chopping it up with her followers on social, speaking to a group of corporate executives on inclusivity, or facilitating a Ted Talk on getting comfortable with being uncomfortable with over 1.7 million views, Luvvie is consistently Luvvie. Nothing more, nothing less and we have to respect her for that. Tonya Rapley was important for this film because she took a traumatic experience as a survivor of domestic violence, and turned it into her greatest creation, the My Fab Finance platform, which was designed to empower women financially, so they wouldn’t have to stay in any situations that were unsafe, due to financial limitations. Financial empowerment is freedom and Tonya wants women to be free to make the moves they need to make in life, especially if their lives and well-being depends on it.
Fluker: Share how this film is important for black women entrepreneurs. How will they be inspired by this film?
Bluitt: Entrepreneurship can be a lonely journey, particularly for Black women who may not have the resources to hire a team. I want women to know that even the most successful women in business have experienced the challenges and obstacles they face while building their brands. We all make mistakes, learn from them, and stop to refuel or keep going even stronger. I want women to know they are not alone in their fears and the biggest takeaway is this – if the women in this film can do it, you can do it, too!
Fluker: How did the partnership with Netflix come about? Why did you decide to work with Netflix?
Bluitt: The partnership with Netflix came through the film’s distribution partner, Gravitas Ventures. They’ve been a powerful resource for the film, securing placement “She Did That.” on iTunes, Amazon, Target.com, Walmart.com, BarnesandNoble.com, and every major cable network’s ON DEMAND platform (Comcast, Spectrum, Xfinity, DIRECTV, etc.). I’m beyond excited to know that my first film will now be featured alongside some of the most impactful stories and talented filmmakers in the industry on Netflix! These stories chronicling the rise of Black women entrepreneurs will be available on the Netflix platform exclusively for 18 months in the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom/Ireland, Australia/New Zealand, and Africa for 18 months. When I think of how many new Black women-owned businesses will be birthed from this film, I get emotional. We are literally making history!
Source credit: https://www.forbes.com/sites/dominiquefluker/2020/02/04/she-did-that/#15750c0a6c8f