PANTHFRICA: REIMAGINING “BLACK”
Currently we not only celebrate Black History, but “Blacks in Film” History. The unexpected happened when the advanced tickets to Marvel’s new movie Black Panther became the highest pre-sold film in the history of the Marvel Comic Universe, all within the first 24 hours of ticket sales. Little did we know that right in the heart of the community, months before ticket sales went public, six friends had an idea to encourage a massive movement surrounding the film, which, in its own right, made history in the City of Buffalo.
Meet PANTHFRICA, a collective of Black creatives formed in 2017 who’s unified goal is to help others reimagine “Black” by transforming and empowering the community through the arts and entrepreneurship. They have done the unthinkable, selling out four of Buffalo’s Regal Cinema theaters for the opening weekend of Black Panther and doing so long before tickets became available to the general public; dubbing them as The Official Private Screening Showcase for the Black Panther Film in Buffalo. Using their bright minds, creative entrepreneurial intuition and the power of the social network, PANTHFRICA created an exclusive celebratory screening event surrounding the film, offering movie goers ticket package options that led to the success of their sold out seats.
During the sales they also encouraged their attending audience to dress in full African Regalia as part of the supportive celebration of this epic release during Black History Month. From tickets, to merchandise to Buffalo’s first ever Afro-Futurist After Party (an adult only event) that takes place this Friday from 8:30p.m. – 1a.m. at the Barrel Factory 65 Vandalia Street. The members of PANTHFRICA are truly humbled and delighted by the outpouring of support they have received and are looking forward to bringing more experiences like this to the community.
The collective is comprised of six emerging super talents who were all born, raised and educated in the City of Buffalo. Edreys Wajed is a well known multi-disciplined artist, mentor and entrepreneur recently recognized for his iconic work on The Freedom Wall. Drea D’Nur is a powerhouse artist, director, singer/composer and recording artist celebrated for her standing ovation tribute stage show, The Spirit of Nina Simone. Alexa Wajed is one of Buffalo’s most sought after emerging chefs specializing in vegan cuisine, who is also an educator, jewelry designer and entrepreneur.Amina theEmpress is a multi-dimensional artist, educator singer/songwriter and exceptional screen printer Sufana Wajed is a talented designer, mentor and associate producer / production coordinator for WNED. DQ Grant is a loved creative visionary and cultural enthusiast dedicated to providing support and guidance to underserved youth.
For their group Q&A it became clear that these Black minds also think alike. Unified, positive and visionary, PANTHFRICA has the potential to be the agent for change we’ve been waiting for.
Q.Who/What is PANTHFRICA?
A.We are a collective of Black creatives and aim to help others reimagine “Black” by transforming and empowering our communities through the arts and entrepreneurship. Q.What does the PANTHFRICA name and symbol represent? A.We were striving for a logo image that would be ubiquitous and could stand boldly on its own not requiring much explanation. Both name and logo are a composite of a panther, that represents power, and the great continent of Africa known for the immeasurable wealth of knowledge it has lent the world in medicine, math, science and architecture. We wanted to create something that would cause a “recall” of that wealth and power.
Q.Why PANTHFRICA Why Now?
A.Because the time is now! It’s imperative for us not only as individuals but as an organization to curate interactions, experiences and events that primarily target the youth who are the future. They are largely marginalized and systemically stifled without the proper resources and outlets to reach their full potential. Individually we all live work love and grow as artists and strongly believe the arts have the power to heal and bring about positive change. There is no better time than the present to raise awareness among the youth and within the community to Reimagine “Black” in a society where the underserved are made to feel unworthy and forgotten especially the youth. Kids need to know what true support looks like and trust that it can look just like them. The rate of young people turning to drugs, alcohol, suicide and violence is very present in the community. Love support, attention and action is needed now more than ever. It’s our turn and responsibility to step forward to truly give back.
Q.Any past/present movements or organizations that may have inspired PANTHFRICA?
A.Certainly, The Niagara Movement, Harlem Renaissance and the work of many humanitarian driven musicians and artists who used their gifts and platforms for equity, self-reliance and empowerment. We are also inspired by all of Buffalo’s long standing independent artists and black owned /operated businesses in the community.
Q.Looking back, what was the most important reason behind organizing the Black Panther Screenings and related events ?
A.We made this first effort as PANTHFRICA to challenge ourselves with a large undertaking, to do something big and important as a unified team, and testament to our brother/sisterhood and to also bring the community together with the notion of how important it is to support and uplift each other, and to celebrate reimagining “Black” in relation to the film, like the Afrofuturism workshops and art show we opened last week at Buffalo Arts Studio that had a surprisingly large turnout despite the weather and through the upcoming Afrofuturistic Ball (the after party to the film screening on friday) which is the first of its kind in Buffalo where we wanted to give the community an opportunity to change how they want to be seen, so we encouraged African regalia and Wakanda inspired attire for the ball. We are excited and proud to be a part of this cultural awakening around the world especially here in Buffalo.
Q.What’s up next ?
A.We have a number of speaking engagements at schools, panel discussions on Afro- Futurism, and more community outreach, art exhibits and charitable events. We are also targeting corporations, cultural institutions and small businesses that wish to contribute in some way to help us in our effort to close the inequity gap, by partnering with PANTHFRICA to support the work that do.