We are oftentimes told to pray about certain things that we have no control over. But sometimes those actions or behaviors need immediate addressing either on the therapist’s couch or the small screen. Enters Giants. Equal parts reality, equal parts therapy this digital based project focuses on mental health, sexual identity and being a millennial in today’s blackosphere. Now in Season 2, the scripted, six half-hour episodic, one hour finale drama is distributed by Issa Rae’s ColorCreative.tv, executive produced by Jussie Smollett and created and starring James Bland, Vanessa Baden Kelly, Sean Samuels and a host of other exceptionally gifted actors of color.
This new season the trio comprised of Malachi (Bland), Journey (Baden Kelly) and Ade (Samuels) are running from their callings, grapples with the idea of turning thirty and discovering themselves in a cramped, one-bedroom apartment unpacking the past, comforting the present and figuring out their futures. And sometimes Giants have to slay other Giants in order to conquer their fears. Bland lets us into his world and we have decided to ride along for the sake of our sanity.
TGD: Describe your process in creating Giants.
Bland: Honestly it came from a desire to create something for myself. After spending time in L.A. working on other projects I gained so much experience but I reached a point where it was time to birth something, to put it out into the world. Season 1 was written by me and that process allowed me to just write and not judge myself. I wore a lot of hats but for Season 2 I wanted to craft a masterful, well produced machine.
TGD: Why focus on mental health in the black community?
Bland: I was thinking about my friend, how will I tell this story and deal with her illness. I’ve watched Vanessa Baden Kelly deal with clinical depression and how it crippled her life. So many struggle, go undiagnosed and become trivialized by their families. It gives a voice and frees people to have more discussion around this topic.
TGD: Your character Malachi has a lot going on: abandonment issues, searching for love in a dollar, two roommates in love with you, questioning his sexuality and a host other problems. What is Malachi running from/wrestling with?
Bland: Self! Running from purpose and what he wants to achieve in life. A lot of us can relate to Malachi. We know that God has given us a calling and purpose and we are all trying to figure out what that is.
TGD: How important is it to create content ‘for black men, by black men’ in this digital age?
Bland: It is extremely important! We have a certain lense that is able to conceptualize and bring our stories to life. No one can fully understand our experiences except us–no one can fully embody the level of authenticity telling stories about black men. Also it’s about shifting and being in control of the narrative. Zora Neale Hurston once said, “If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.”
TGD: Why YouTube as opposed to popular streaming networks like Netflix, Amazon or Hulu?
Bland: Because they were not knocking on my door. I did not want to wait on Hollywood to validate our stories. Giants is a drama series that it is readily available and it has granted us the ability to be free. This is much bigger than business, entertainment, etc.
TGD: The creative direction of the show feels organic from the music to the set design. How important was it to create a cinematic space that appeal to millennials?
Bland: It is not just about what is being spoken; it goes beyond words. The entire frame must speak to the audience.
TGD: Why should we watch Giants?
Bland: Because it’s a damn good show! Its unapologetically black and captures the black millennial experience. It tackles issues that are relevant and important and of the now. It’s for the culture!
Image Source: Shot by Serrandon