It doesn’t matter how old you are. Everyone is looking for hope.
Written and directed by 13-year-old Kalia Love Jones, The Power of Hopeis an animated short that tells the inspirational story of a young woman who has big dreams of becoming an architect. When her mother becomes ill, she feels overwhelmed and helpless. However, after hearing a powerful speech by former First Lady Michelle Obama, she is inspired to find the strength to persevere and bring her dreams to life.
As a first-time filmmaker, Jones says that she wanted to both encourage diversity in the filmmaking world while, at the same time, creating a story that was relatable to as many people as possible.
“I made the film because I want to see more diversity in film,” Jones begins. “I want to see more people of color and women in film, but the story was just something that I came up with. I wanted The Power of Hope to be something that was relatable. I wanted it to be as relatable as possible [so that], when [people] would watch it, they would feel inspired.”
Creating a film at any age is always a difficult process. However, featuring sharp animation and visuals, Power of Hope is an incredible first step for the young Jones. Though, with that in mind, one of the most difficult aspects of the film’s production to her was finding a team that was willing to work because of her youth.
“I think the biggest challenge in making this film was finding people to work on it because we’re so new to this industry,” Jones recalls. “We don’t know really anybody so finding someone to help us was really hard. We went to colleges and asked for animators or people that are working on the film. But it was really hard because nobody would want to work with a 13-year-old. After a few months of looking, we finally found some a crew and it all came together.”
Anchoring the film is the incredibly powerful speech by former First Lady Michelle Obama, which empowers the young protagonist to keep going when she faces tough times. While Obama wasn’t involved directly in the project, Jones wanted to use her words because of the incredible impact that the First Lady has had on her life.
“[Michelle Obama] didn’t work on this film herself,” Jones clarifies. “She was just a very big inspiration to me. I don’t think I would have felt inspired to have made a film without Michelle as my huge inspiration. I just love Michelle Obama. She’s a huge inspiration to me. So, I wanted to use her speech in the film.
In addition to Obama, Jones also takes the opportunity to pay homage to other women such as Awkwafina and Ava DuVernay in the end credits who she believes are worth looking to as motivation.
“I think all of them are there because they’re all inspiring to me,” she says. “They inspired me to make the film. So, I felt that they should be in the credits.”
Asked where she believes the true power of hope lies, Jones contends that she thinks it stems from the encouraging words of others.
“I think the power [of hope is] the power to motivate someone to be successful [or] to take steps to get out of a hard place and get into a better one,” Jones explains. “It’s the power to motivate someone and make them feel inspired to overcome all the obstacles that get in their way.”
“I think it’s hard to cling to hope when you’re facing adversity,” she continues. “That’s why I made this film because I wanted people to feel inspired when so they would feel hopeful for a better future and success they saw the film. I wanted them to feel hope so that they can overcome obstacles.”
For Jones, however, the most important thing is that people feel encouraged by the film to face difficult circumstances head on so that they can conquer their fears and be successful.
“I want people to feel inspired when they watch my film,” she reassures. “I want them to feel confident and brave, [so] they can feel like they can overcome all the obstacles that can come in their way and reach their goals.”
For audio of our interview with Kalia Love Jones, click here.
The Power of Hope premieres at the Shorts by the Sea Festival in September.