Chat with Amarachi Nwosu, The Brain behind “Black in Tokyo”

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We chatted with Amarachi Nwosu the director of Black in Tokyo. The Nigerian-American self-taught photographer, filmmaker and writer. She tells us a little more about the release of her debut short documentary “Black in Tokyo”

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XO: Amarachi Can you tell us the story behind the documentary?

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AN: Black in Tokyo was created with the intention of exposing people around the world to the black foreign experience of living in a homogenous country, the film follows five subjects, with origins ranging from West Africa to the U.S., narrating the different cultural challenges and opportunities of living in Tokyo. The 10min documentary examines the dichotomy between the preservation of personal customs while adopting Japanese traditions.

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The documentary talks about the influence of black culture on youth culture in Asia, race relations, and representations of black people within the Japanese media. Through interviews with people from all walks of life, the project takes the viewer on a visual and narrative journey through Tokyo.

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Lee Marshal is the owner of Room 806, one of the first black hair salons in Tokyo, Japan.

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Trice and Will McCrory are a young military couple living in the Yokota base located just outside of Tokyo, Japan.

XO: Can you tell me more about the origin of the project and why you felt the need of documenting the story of these very different characters?

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AN: I didn’t see anything compelling and inspiring on black travellers in Asia when doing research, so I wanted to fill that gap and create something that could connect to people of all walks of life. Most of my subjects were friends and people I had a relationship with prior to filming the project, however Lee the hair salon owner was the only participant that was referred by one of the producers who assisted me on the project. I wanted to portray a diverse story that also showed the viewer the duality of blackness. Although they were all of black descent they were all living very different truths from very different view points.

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Emel Ahmed is an artist, designer and model based in Tokyo, Japan.

XO: What was the most challenging aspect about making this documentary?

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AN: It was mainly just being patient and giving myself time to develop the story. I directed, edited, executively produced and shot most of the documentary myself so I had to wear different hats and learn to balance everything. It was difficult, but I learned so much from the experience.

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Antarius Reynolds is a rapper, producer and streetwear designer based in Tokyo, Japan.

XO: Is there a lesson you would like viewers to take away from the film?

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AN: If you want to be represented correctly, you have to be willing to create the representation you want to see. It’s very important that as black creators we have ownership over the content we create and not allow other people to tell our stories

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AN: without truly understanding our experience. In order to do so, we have to put yourself in these spaces and take risks. That is what Black in Tokyo is about, having ownership over your narrative and identity even in foreign spaces.

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XO: The doc is very inspiring. However, there are still a lot of people of African descent in America and Europe, who are not always confortable exploring the world. Do you have a message for them?

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AN: I want people to take more risks and get out of their comfort zones and travel more. After all, comfort zones are a beautiful place but nothing grows there. You have to be willing to let go of fear to achieve something you never have before. It is difficult, but incredibly rewarding.

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Thank you Amarachi!

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Amarachi Nwosu

With a background in International Communication, she has worked with a number of brands, organizations and companies in Lagos, Tokyo, New York, London and Los Angeles.

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