‘Sweeter’: A Film Thesis on Black Motherhood

by: Jennifer Wright Special to the AFRO
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A precocious 6-year-old switching places with her mother for the day to discover the true meaning of working twice as hard for half as much is exactly what student filmmaker Emily Eaglin portrayed in her short film “Sweeter.”

The 13-minute film was submitted in the Baltimore Student Film Showcase at the Maryland Film Festival.

Still from Sweeter (Courtesy photo)

Eaglin, who is a film major and art history minor at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, wrote in an e-mail to the AFRO: “I challenged myself to write a story about a daughter of a young mother as a thesis on Black womanhood and set it in the city of Baltimore. For young Black mothers, it’s hard to find any representations that aren’t tragedies, but life is much more multidimensional than that.”

Eaglin played the lead role of 23-year-old Samira who is a video game designer and mother of a 6-year-old girl. The film starts with the daughter, Willy (Je’Syre Beckwith) saying she wants to be an adult because she cannot think about a subject for her report. On awaking the next morning Willy tells her mother that she heard women of color work twice as hard to get half as much as some other people. Willy, being only a first-grader, does not fully understand what that means. So, during the moments when Samira and Willy have bonding time, the mother teaches her daughter these lessons, leading her to the realization that her report should be about the “Wage Gap.” It is a real life issue which Eaglin taught to the young actress and her real-life mother.

Eaglin told the AFRO that Samira was not a single mother and that her exclusion of the father figure and sole focus on the mother-daughter moments was intentional.

“I feel like it reveals a lot of biases many people have about young Black mothers/absent fathers,” the filmmaker said.

Eaglin also worked with the mother of the late Korryn Gaines, a Randallstown woman and mother of two who was shot and killed by Baltimore County police officers in August 2016. The film was dedicated to Gaines.

The film has been submitted to several other film festivals including the “Short to the POINT” film festival in Romania and the Africana Studies Film Festival at Community College of Baltimore County.

Eaglin is a native of Silver Spring, Md., and is a graduating senior at University of Maryland-Baltimore County.

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