Headlands Center for the Arts

Nikyatu Jusu

new york | writing
Artist in Residence Program 2018

Artist Statement

Black women are always central to my storytelling. The films I have created aspire to straddle the line of social resonance coupled with “butts in seats” storytelling. Race, nationality, sexuality, and mental health are all central themes within my oeuvre. I’m intrigued by the myriad ways that we unconsciously allow our shadow selves to seep out in spite of veneers of “normalcy,” and the destructive domino effect these skeletons have on every facet of humanity.

My goal is to portray the aforementioned nuance in my cinematic futuristic/fantastical worlds while centering Black women’s bodies. I draw from  many sources as fodder for my work, from West African mythology to contemporary social issues affecting marginalized communities. My Sierra Leonean and American hybridized identity greatly influences my work.

While At Headlands

During my stay at Headlands, I will continue writing my proposed episodic narrative series, Suicide By Sunlight, which explores themes of sexual identity, nuances of Blackness, and mortality. This series is loosely inspired by science-fiction novelist Octavia Butler’s fantastical writings. In Suicide, modern-day New York City is plagued with an ever-growing population of day-walking black vampires, immune to the sun due to their additional melanin. This series centers around one such day-walker, Rayn, who is a hybrid: half vampire and half human. She rejects her vampire identity, hunting for the perfect full-blooded human mate who will impregnate her with a human child and dilute her lineage. She battles to suppress her burgeoning insatiable blood lust. Socially resonant subtext permeates this series, enabling me to touch on more tangible historical elements of miscegenation, racial identity, interracial pairings, and marginalized communities.

Selected Videos

Personal Website