An Evening Celebrating Just Mercy

BE@WB (Black Employees at Warner Bros) started the year with an impactful event for the highly-anticipated film ‘Just Mercy’.  The night began with a cocktail reception and was followed by an advanced screening for WB employees and industry partners across a number of other studios including Amazon, Sony, Netflix and Paramount.  I heard of the work of Bryan Stevenson but to see this film and how it brought his story to life was very touching, educating and more importantly, much needed.  After watching this film, you cannot leave more inspired and yearning for change.  Inspired to do better, to have a voice, to make a difference in some form or fashion, to lend a helping hand.  Change can come in many forms as well so whatever you desire to see change or be apart of a form of change is what I meant in the preceding statement.  The cast delivered an outstanding, strong performance and helped to paint only a portion of the undeniably great work of Bryan Stevenson.  The formation of EJI (Equal Justice Initiative) was built on the premise of seeking truth, justice and providing legal assistance for the poor and condemned. Not to forget, this was all done without monetary gain since legal counsel was provided free of charge.  The amount of perseverance and strength to just keep going in spite of any hurdle or obstacle presented, portrayed in Stevenson’s character throughout the film, was inspiring in itself.

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After the screening, the cast of the film joined us for a moderated panel. Talent included Michael B. Jordan, Brie Larson, Jamie Foxx, Karan Kendrick and the real-life hero, Bryan Stevenson. There were quite a few things that stuck with me from this panel discussion but here are a few key points I would like to share.  The first being words from Karan Kendrick who plays the wife of Walter McMillian.  She stated it was pretty much impossible to see this film and not leave moved in some way and wanting to contribute back to the community.  The best words of advice from her were the following. ” We cannot do everything, but we can do something.  Figure out what your something is and how you can make an impact with what you have where you are now”.  Definitely something to think about and figure out what your something is.  As stated, we cannot do it all but we most definitely can do something.

Bryan Stevenson shared so many gems, I could literally go on for pages sharing them all.  However, I want to share what stuck out to me the most.  I’ll start with “holding up the strength that diversity brings”.  Stevenson spoke quite a bit about his Harvard experience and wanting to blend in at first but then quickly realizing there was more power in his own story and path on how he even made it to study law at Harvard.  Subsequently, this leads to another key point taken from him “affirm the power in what makes you different”.  Often times, we all may of been in a space where it seemed easier to just to try to blend in but the real power comes from what makes you YOU.  Stevenson also spoke a lot about having your own narrative in the spaces you occupy and how the narrative should be based on your worth and values once in these spaces; not letting your narrative be shaped and formed by others.  There is power in creating your own narrative and changing the perception of what people may presume you are based on subjective views or what society has deemed you are before even walking in a room.  Stevenson elaborated heavily on maximizing every opportunity for any space you are in or platform, given or created, to embrace diversity and the strength given from it.  I left in awe from what Stevenson shared. I desire nothing more than to continue to be the best version of myself at all times and embrace what makes me different.  Every accomplishment made is big and should be celebrated, no matter how small it may seem to you at the time.  Huge kudos to BE@WB for pulling off such a successful event!  Looking forward to many more impactful events in the future.

**These views and opinions are my own and in no way reflect those of Warner Bros or its affiliates**

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