When Barack Obama became the first African-American President of the United States, something magical started to happen. Suddenly, young Black boys across the country opened their eyes wide to a future filled with possibilities. No longer limited by excuses of growing up in a single-parent household or saddled by the weight of economic disparity, these young boys are now dreaming bigger than ever before.
Rriiver Nyile, who is only 8-years-old, is a prime example. Because of Obama’s achievements, this youngster is writing a book and filming a documentary—both entitled “I CAN BE BARACK OBAMA.” He’s inviting children to upload a video or write a comment about how Barack Obama has inspired their lives. ESSENCE.com caught up with Rriiver to find out how he got involved with this project and what he hopes it will do for other kids like him.
ESSENCE.COM: What is “I CAN BE BARACK OBAMA” really all about?
RRIIVER NYILE: It’s all about explaining what Barack Obama means to me. So for me, I would say everyone knows that Barack Obama’s favorite sport is basketball and that’s my favorite sport too. He’s my idol, because no other person has accomplished what he’s accomplished. He’s the first African-American President and if Martin Luther King, Jr. didn’t fight for our civil rights, then Barack Obama wouldn’t be President today.
ESSENCE.COM: How did you come up with the idea to write a book and make a documentary like this?
NYILE: The whole idea was actually my mom’s, but right now I’m writing the book, helping with the Web site and I’ve started working on my movie. I’ve already interviewed four kids from the Body of Christ Church [in Houston, Texas] and posted video on my YouTube page and I have eight pages of the book already written. I want it to be about 20 pages but it will be done in time for summer.
ESSENCE.COM: What’s your process for making this movie?
NYILE: I ask them to tell me in one minute or under what does” I CAN BE BARACK OBAMA, ” mean to them. One kid, who is a teenager, said to him it means I can be anything I want to be. That’s why I’m doing this. I hope it will make other kids believe that they can do anything they want to do and achieve a lot of great opportunities.
ESSENCE.COM: Did you follow the election and watch the inauguration on television?
NYILE: I thought the election was a wipe out with John McCain. He lost because he wasn’t nice and didn’t speak very well and when he said something to Barack Obama, Barack Obama didn’t panic. He stayed calm and won the election. My mom and I watched the inauguration on television and we were in our pajamas, ordered pizza and bread sticks and Perrier. I’ve learned a lot about politics and even though I couldn’t vote, I donated $20 of my birthday money to the campaign.
ESSENCE.COM: What can kids who submit their writing or video do to stand out and be included in the final cut?
NYILE: You can do anything. You can rap about it, sing about, you can even dance about it. I’m planning to go to schools, churches, workshops and Black Expo, and just ask kids if they want to be in my movie. Some of them will say no and some of them will say yes, but all I know is I bet they are nervous like I am. I’m nervous to interview all these people.
ESSENCE.COM: You call yourself a “kidprenur.” How are you making money from this project?
NYILE: People can donate to me. I’m making money from my speaking engagements, and then when people buy my book.
ESSENCE.COM: What do you want to be when you grow up?
NYILE: I’d like to be an attorney. My mom says that I’m a great fighter and every time I think somebody is wrong, I try to fight for what’s right. On November 4, when Barack Obama was elected as President of the United States, being an attorney just came into my head. Really I want to be a basketball player but if that doesn’t go well, I think I can be a sports attorney and kind of combine the two.
For more information on Rriiver Nyile, go to ICanBeBarackObama.com.