I first learned about Thais Francis through Chaédria LaBouvier, another amazing filmmaker I had the opportunity to highlight during Twenties Unscripted Takeover. When Thais reached out, we had the chance to have a phone conversation where her light, intelligence and beauty all resonated with me in a really lasting way. She is certainly a woman who knows her purpose and is chasing that purpose with everything she has. Thais, who has previously been featured by The Root as one of its Top 25 under 25 Innovators, is currently working on her short film “Late Expectations”, a piece that tackles the intersection of adulthood, identity, social media and sexuality in a relevant and meaningful way for twenty-somethings. The “Late Expectations” team is raising money through Indiegogo for the post production of the film until Wednesday, Sept. 24. You can donate here.
Tell us a little more about yourself, your life and how you got started in theater and film.
I live for the moments on stage, when the spot light burns, and all eyes are on me. I feel incredible, that is where I belong. My first encounter with the performing arts came at the age of 10. I had just moved to Maryland from Trinidad and Tobago and discovered dance. It began at church, and as I progressed, I studied ballet and modern. I then moved to New York to pursue acting at New York University. After graduating I did theater, but discovered film would give my work more visibility. Film didn’t come as easily and I knew nothing about it. I went to the Brooklyn Public Library for months and spent hours reading, teaching myself how to write a screen play. A year later, we have shot my first short film.
You talked about your work being born out of “a place of necessity” and having to teach yourself about film in order to seize certain opportunities. How has that approach to your work empowered you as an artist?
Maybe on the outside looking in, creating a product is empowering. However, when you’re in the process of creating said project, it can be overwhelming and intense. I’m in a vulnerable space right now. Maybe after it is finished, and I sit back and watch it on screen, then I’d feel empowered. To that end, I do know that seeing it on screen will be one of the most humbling and beautiful experiences. To know that I put so much work into the film, withstood people’s judgments, disinterest and rejection, and persevered… now that is empowering.
One of the main messages in “Late Expectations” is that of not believing the illusion people portray on social media and not being afraid to be who you truly are. How do you think social media inhibits twenty-somethings from exploring and expressing their true selves?
We are so caught up. Caught up in the witty tweet, the filter that flatters the most, the status that reveals our accomplishments. I do it. We all do it. This story is about a girl who likes girls, but dates boys. She’s pretending. I think a lot of us in our 20’s pretend, and social media allows us to do that.
“Late Expectations” has been created by a team of women. Tell us more about that team and how these women have contributed to the success of the project thus far.
It’s important to me to work with women, we exist, let’s show the world what we do. My director executive producer, music supervisor, casting director to name a few, are all talented women.
What role does music play in the film?
I love music! I have many musician friends, and as an artist it’s really important for me to build with other emerging artists. You’ll be hearing songs from artists who are definitely on the rise, some are current NYU students, recent Alums of NYU, people that I knew growing up in Maryland and so forth.
What advice would you give to aspiring creators?
I once had an acting teacher who always said “Do the work.” It really is that simple.
What inspires you?
I am inspired by Bob Marley and unicorns. Bob, because he wasn’t chasing fame (that was simply a by product of his hard work) rather he was chasing art. He loved what he did and it was not a walk in the park for him. Yet he did it. He made music, he broke barriers, his music was heard from Trenchtown, to… Croatia. I know what it’s like to fight for what I want, and get rejected time after time, but I also hope to be impactful like he is. I’m inspired by unicorns because they represent an ethereal entity that I can’t quite comprehend; they are mysterious and intriguing, elusive, similar to my career. I’ll always be chasing my art, just like I’ll always chase understanding the unicorn.
Remind us where we can we go to contribute to the “Late Expectations” Indiegogo campaign.
Thais is an artist, living in Brooklyn. You can follow her on twitter @shebethais. Her next venture is a feature film, and an EP.