Girlhood, Black girlhood specifically can be examined through a variety of different lens. From locations to characters, girlhood can look drastically different. And yet, when told correctly, these stories can be a tapestry for representation, identification, and understanding. With her debut feature film Jinn, director Nijla Mu’min examines Black girlhood from the perspective of a mother-daughter relationship.
Jinn centers around Summer (Zoe Renee), a bold and vivacious high school senior on the cusp of womanhood just as her mother Jade (Luke Cage’s Simone Missick) converts to Islam –effecively shattering Summer’s world as she knows it. Dorian Missick and Kelvin Harrison, Jr. also star in the film. Just before Mu’min won the SXSW Special Jury Recognition for Writing, we sat down to chat about her semi-biographical film, girlhood, and how cultures meld and clash with one another.
Mu’min’s upbringing and background helped her birth Jinn — it was a story that she’d been crafting all of her life. “I grew up in the Bay Area,” she explained. “My father is Muslim, and he converted to Islam in the late 1960s in Oakland. When I was born, I was born into that community. My mother had converted to Islam when she married my father. I grew up going to the masjid, being immersed in that culture, and being around so many different Muslims and so many distinct personalities. The masjid that we went to was in this beautiful Victorian building with all these rooms and colors. I always knew that I wanted to tell a story that was centered in that community; in that space.”
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