by The People’s Minister of Information JR
“Brazilian Wavy” is a comedic short on a political satire tip written by Brooklyn-born filmmaker Kirk Henriques. The subject is the economic relationship between Blacks and Koreans, which has not been very beneficial to the Black community.
Notably, Ice Cube made a song in the ‘90s called “Black Korea,” and Chris Rock recently made a documentary dealing with the Korean domination of the Black haircare industry. Filmmaker Kirk Henriques did a good job conquering such a touchy subject, while using comedy to tell the story.
This is one of my favorite shorts in the San Francisco Black Film Festival this year. Get more info at sfbff.org. Check out filmmaker Kirk Henriques in his own words.
M.O.I. JR: What inspired you to make “Brazilian Wavy”?
Kirk Henriques: I was inspired by our legacy of science and innovation – legends like Lewis Howard Latimer, Garrett Morgan and Lonnie Johnson, just to name a few. I wanted to tell a story of a young man from the hood who was talented in science instead of sports.
I saw it as a way to get young people involved in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). Growing up, I used the hair product Pink Hair Lotion and I never knew the guy who created it looked just like me and also owned a factory in Chicago.
M.O.I. JR: Can you talk about the process of making a comedy love story with a political twist? Was that intentional?
Kirk Henriques: I would definitely say Yes! It was intentional. I deliberately chose to use comedy as a vehicle to talk about these sensitive issues about hair and self-image. To me, comedy is best when it comes from real situations.
So I knew I wanted to address the relationship between Korean-owned businesses and the African-American communities they serve head on. In doing so, I used the relationship between the main character, Remy, played by Barry Floyd, and his Korean girlfriend, played by Celeste Seda, to mirror the relationship between the Black community and the Korean beauty supply store owners.
The relationship seems one-sided. A healthy relationship is one in which both sides should benefit, even with the ups and downs, there should be respect for each other.
M.O.I. JR: Can you talk about the politics of hair in the Black community?
Kirk Henriques: Yes, this is a hot topic. Overall the hair industry is a billion-dollar industry with African Americans controlling only 3 percent, even though they drive the market. The Koreans dominate and have a strong hold, ranging from the manufacturing to distribution, where a lot of African-American business owners are priced out due to the simple fact that Korean factories only sell to Korean supply stores.
This leads to a cycle where the money made in the African-American community doesn’t stay there; instead, the profits are invested in the Korean communities. That’s why in the film the main character Remy is so passionate about making his own hair product and giving back.
M.O.I. JR: How long did it take for you to write the script, shoot the film and do post production on “Brazilian Wavy”?
Kirk Henriques: I took 18 months to write the feature script. The short film was adapted from the feature film version. I then spent three years trying to get it made. I shot the short film in three days. Post-production took three weeks to complete.
M.O.I. JR: What did you want people to get from the story?
Kirk Henriques: I wanted people to think about giving back. A lot of times people become successful and turn their back on the very people or community that supported them in the beginning.
I believe people should pay more attention to where and with whom they spend their money. And lastly, I wanted to show a different image of the African-American male, which is often dehumanized in the media.
M.O.I. JR: Why did you name the film “Brazilian Wavy”?
Kirk Henriques: I have a funny story to tell you about that. But basically, the title of the movie is a play off a popular type of hair extensions, which is the most desired brand of hair. The different hair types you can purchase have names like Malaysian, Peruvian and so on. So, since most hair is marketed to African Americans, I wanted a name that reflected Black women, so Brazil was simply ideal.
The funny story was when I was looking for a hair sponsor for the film, I met a hair distributor at the Bronner Bros Hair Show in Atlanta who was very receptive to the product placement opportunities in film as well as the power of the Black dollar. He then asked if I would change the name of the film to Indian Wavy. He told me I should change the name because all the hair comes from India. I laughed and said why would I do that.
Needless to say, the hair sponsor I ended up working with was a recent college grad turned entrepreneur, who was selling her hair from her shop that is located steps away from the Clark Atlanta University’s compass. Shout out HBS Beauty and another shout out to Desire Extensions in Atlanta.
M.O.I. JR: What else are you working on?
Kirk Henriques: I am currently in talks with investors for the feature film version of “Brazilian Wavy.” There is also discussion about developing a half hour TV series of it as well. As far as future projects, I’m currently writing a Jamaican Western that has been a passion project of mine for a while now.
M.O.I. JR: How could people stay in touch with you?
Kirk Henriques: People can stay in touch with me by following me everywhere @brazilianwavy. They can also visit my website, www.maroonwork.com.
The People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey, journalist, author and filmmaker, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook. And tune in to BlockReportRadio.com. The 2017 San Francisco Black Film Festival runs June 15-18; learn more at SFBFF.org.