It was Shawshank Redepemtion that confirmed a love of film for Nailah Anana Jefferson. The New Orleans native recently made her directional debut with Vanishing Pearls: The Oystermen of Pointe a la Hache. The riveting documentary recounts the devastating impact of the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the worst environmental disaster in American history, on a community of fishermen. Jefferson shares how she found and followed her passion.
Name: Nailah Anan Jefferson
Job: President of Perspective Pictures
City: New Orleans, LA
Twitter handle: @nailahjefferson
The gig: I am the creator and director of the documentary Vanishing Pearls: The Oystermen of Pointe a la Hache, which tells the story of a Louisiana Gulf community of fishermen in peril following the 2010 BP oil spill. Going out, shooting and experiencing the oysterfolk reminded me to be still and enjoy my environment in all its majesty and splendor while it still exists.
The journey: I saw The Shawshank Redemption with my older sister. As we were walking out of the theater I turned to her and said, “Doesn’t that inspire you to want to make movies?” She said, “no.” That’s when I knew I had a passion for film that not everyone possesses. I interned a lot and was the executive assistant to director Lee Daniels in 2007. That allowed me a peek into the indie film world and really prepared me to become an independent filmmaker.
Filmmaking 101: I would encourage aspiring filmmakers to secure as many internships as possible. I learned my strengths and weaknesses, and also discovered what I enjoyed most in the film industry and where to focus my efforts.
Confessions of a Black woman in film: Black women have a unique perspective and a rare history that allows us to view life through a distinct lens. I like to focus on bringing that extraordinary point of view to life.
Her biggest lesson learned: The most important lesson is to listen to and trust myself. While editing Vanishing Pearls, I kept telling myself to back up my film for a week. Of course I put it off and then my hard drive got corrupted. I had a very loud and teary breakdown, but thank God I had a friend who was able to recover just about everything. Now I back everything up!
Her time saving tip: Be decisive. Indecisiveness leads to procrastination and ultimately failure.
Her mantra: When you hit rock bottom talk to the Rock. Prophet Todd Hall gave me that Word in church. I often felt I hit rock bottom with this film and prayer definitely got me through.
Her Network tip: Be kind, humble and willing to volunteer your talent. You receive so much when you’re willing to give.
Her stress relievers: To unwind I travel and read. I make sure to allow myself time to pray and meditate as well.
Student loan status: I have a heap of student loans. Sallie Mae calls me once in a while for a follow up. I’m not in a place yet where I am completely debt free but that’s one of my top priorities.
Her beauty bag: Mac concealer, Are They Real mascara, Smashbox Artificial Light, Aveda Dry Remedy conditioner, Aveeno sunscreen and water.
Her power style accessory: My mom and very good friend make these beautiful Bracelets by Andrea and Ugly Betty Boy Crush gemstone bracelets. I stack six or seven on my wrist at a time and always get compliments.
Her secret superpower: Rising above expectations. People often underestimate me, but that’s okay. Those lower expectations just allow room for me to be more impressive.
For more information and to see Vanishing Pearls, visit Visit affrm.com/vanishing-pearls/