Creator of District Heat Lesbian Web-series Shanovia McKenzie
1. When did your passion for film-making begin?
My passion for filmmaking started in 2014.
2. How and why did you come up with the vision of the District Heat lesbian web-series?
I’ve always been a tv junkie and always desired to see something I could completely relate to. My good friend Shiey introduced me to Lovers N Friends and Between Women. I instantly fell in love with those web series. Since I’ve always had a passion for writing, I figured I could become a part of this amazing platform. With the help of my friend Chantise Martin who went to the Art Institute Of Washington, I was able to make this happen.
3. Did anyone help you with the creation and vision of District Heat?
The Vision was mine, but initially, I had a partner for a couple months which didn’t work out. However, I must give her credit for the creation of Wyllows name and the help of the name of the show. I said District, she said Heat. We put it together and was like “District Heat” yaaaaas. This is the name.Chantise Martin knew about the filming aspect and editing. She also showed me how to shoot to help with filming so I invested into a camera.
4. Why did you choose a lesbian web-series instead of a heterosexual web-series?
I chose what we were lacking and what I could identify with. I wanted my LGBT community to be provided with endless options of content as the heterosexual community has been provided with. This was very important to me. Especially for women of color. We loved the L Word, but now it was time for women of color to be presented as more than just a cameo or for a few episodes. We should also be the headline, the plot, the lead with support.
Definitely. There is a lack of Black Filmmakers period and adding LGBT filmmakers just makes it more scarce. I believe we should be more open minded to helping one another so that we all can achieve this beautiful goal. Instead of being competitive, let’s be uplifting and supportive. Being aware of the lack should make us unite with one another more. I believe it is slowly happening.
6. District Heat hits on a lot of crime and drug dealing in some episodes with your lead character Ali. Why did you choose to do a lesbian web-series based on crime and drugs?
I grew up in N.E of Washington, D.C. Crime and drugs were something that I grew up around (not my household). I’ve been involved in relationships with drug dealers and my girlfriend at the time had her hand in a few transactions in addition to her 9 to 5. She is “Ali”. Of course, not completely, but the idea was based off of her.
Just from experience, observation, thoughts, etc. My mind is always going… The biggest back lash I’ve received was District Heat being compared to pornography. A friend at the time who also worked on the show at the time asked was the show just about sex. I was a bit offended. My response was “The show is about life and in life you tend to have sex. I’m leaving nothing out”. Sex is natural and does affect our lives. Why not display that? I didn’t understand that question especially since she was a part of the production. I’m thinking of all of the words I’ve written, sex is all you see? However, everyone’s perception is different.
8. Are you inspired by other gay or lesbian producers?
Definitely. I must give credit where credit is due! They were/are my inspiration.
9. Would you like to collaborate with any other film-makers?
I’ve connected with a new great web series called “Southern Belles”. A couple of my characters made an appearance in their show. However, you will see us connecting more. They are wonderful people!
10. Do you have another favorite lesbian web-series?
Studville, Southern Belle, Lipstick The Series, Lovers N Friends, etc. There are so many more I need to catch up on.
11. Is there an actor/actress you would like to work with?
Of course! Angela Bassett, Sanaa Latham, Nia Long, and many others.
12. Are you working on any current or past projects?
I’m working on Season 3 as of now. However, it might be compiled into a movie vs a series this time. We will announce the decision in 2018.
13.When will there be a new season of District Heat?
I’ve learned not to set any dates until the material is complete! Therefore, I can’t fully answer that. But, we will make announcements late 2018. The goal is to take our time and deliver a great product.
14. What is your proudest achievement so far being a film-maker?
Actually reaching out to people! Becoming a part of the movement of LGBT film. Though it’s not televised, I’m extremely proud of YouTube for allowing District Heat to reach people who actually can relate to the show. When I read the comments of how people are connected to the characters and have experienced similar situations. That makes me humble and proud!
15. What advice would you give to someone who wanted to have a life creating film?
Properly plan, be organized, have the right team, faith, and God. With those things, you will go a long way.
I would like to thank all of our fans for allowing us to be a part of this movement! It’s truly been a blessing. I also want to apologize for our lack of consistency. The frustration is definitely understood. In NO way did I know things would turn out that way. However, you live and learn and aim to be wiser in all future decisions.
For all updates, follow us on IG: districtheat and subscribe to our YouTube Channel: District Heat.