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LIVE with passion. LEARN with purpose. LIGHT the way.

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AROUND THE BLOK. VOL. 14 - Malakai

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For this segment of Around the Blok, we bring you Malakai. A fearless, passionate, and dedicated creative vested in visual storytelling that empowers those with a voice. We’re grateful to have her as our next feature. Enjoy!

Tell us about yourself?

I’m an award-winning director (Sundance/Horizon Award) who enjoys giving back to my community through the visual arts. I would call myself a disrupter. As well as this, I am a director, artist, philanthropist, activist. I develop and direct branded, digital content as well as narrative content as well. My goal is to empower, build and to fuck shit up in the best way.

I want to tell stories that are imaginative and powerful. Being a young black girl that was born and raised in Mesa, Arizona, I’ve always been a part of Arizona – but often, I was not surrounded by those who reflected me. I was able to take those myriads of experiences as I moved forward – and develop them into something bigger. For me, the opportunity to create, develop and build here as an artist has shaped my world view and who I am today.

I founded my production company, Malakai Creative for this very reason. The opportunity to curate and build worlds was what enabled me to find myself as a director. On the philanthropist side, I am also the founder of the 501c3, Made In Her Image. We give back by educating young girls of color within the film, media, and technology. Our recent partnerships include Paramount, Disney and, Universal.

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Why do you do what you do?

Everything I develop is innate and passion driven. I’m here to really build a legacy and trajectory that will help others tell their stories. Filmmaking is the medium, but it is so much more than that. I love installative art, events, development and curriculum building as well. The more I progress, the more I feel at home. Building the world visually, and metaphorically is what I was meant to do. I want to give young women the opportunity to create what inspires them. I myself want that opportunity as well and will continue to do the same. I make movies.

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What drives you to continue to create?

What drives me to create is my innate self and sense of power. I am here to create whatever I want, and to be brave in doing so. I love being able to prove people wrong. I love curating films and narratives that are full of power.

What benefit does art provide to society?

Without art, we wouldn’t exist. Art is the epicenter of self-expression. We kill for art. We die for art. We live for art. Everyone has something to say, whether it’s on a minimalistic scale- or smaller.

What is your biggest inspiration and why?

My biggest inspiration is my parents. I’ve watched them build and carry on a legacy. They’ve instilled in me what it means to operate and curate a legacy.

When you think of home, what comes to mind?

Arizona is my home. Here, I feel like the possibilities are endless. I’m here to build. I’m here to keep creating and making something happen. Although I’m bi-state now, Arizona has always been the space that has provided me opportunity.

Malakai’s latest project, Souls, will be featured at the Phoenix Art Museum in June. “SOULS is a visual exhibition, photographic art & and film installation that captures the totality of mortality, blackness and Afro-futurism.” Check out the teaser below!

Unable to deal with her grandmother's declining mental and physical health, a young girl uses her cardboard spaceship to escape her reality before the matriarch of her family dies. Executive Produced by Anna Hashmi, Produced by Stephen Love & Marquita Bradley Directed by Malakai Starring Nia Chanel, Johan Beckles & Tabitha Brown. Director of Photography - Aiden Chapparone