Seeing their teenage son Trayvon Martin gunned down in 2012 by George Zimmerman — a Florida neighborhood watch volunteer who claimed self-defense and later was acquitted of all charges related to Martin’s death — Tracey Martin and Sybrina Fulton did what anyone in such a tragic situation might do. They grieved, and they sought to process their experience.
Writing their own book, Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin, the pair were able to retain a sense of authorship over their son’s story and their own, telling the full truth and nothing but the truth. “I think we, as parents, felt it was very important to get our story out to the public on how we view the entire situation, how we raised our child—our livelihoods, our lifestyle,” the elder Martin told Deadline today. “I think it was important that not only we told Trayvon’s life, so we can uphold his legacy, but it was [also] an educational tool for those who really didn’t get in depth and didn’t know the true story behind who Trayvon Martin was. It was important, really, for us to relay that message.”
In studio with Fulton—in addition to doc directors Jenner Furst and Julia Willoughby Nason—Martin was appearing in Tribeca to discuss Rest in Power: The Trayvon Martin Story, a Paramount Network docuseries executive produced by Jay-Z, which will build off of the initial intent of Martin and Fulton’s book. For Furst and Nason, this book provided all the fuel, information and inspiration necessary as they sought to make their project for the screen. “Tracey and Sybrina had laid out such an incredible blueprint in the book, stories that no one had heard about what it was like to go through this, what it was like for 45 days not to have an arrest of the killer of their son, what it was like to have to go into a courtroom and have to deal with this everyday,” Furst said. “Their intimate retelling of this story with a sense of distance from it was the bedrock of our series. What we did then was follow all their leads, go in the nooks and crannies of the story and find the details that no one had ever heard about.”
While Trayvon Martin—a beacon of the #BlackLivesMatter movement—passed away six years ago, the collaborators behind Rest in Power feel that their series, and Trayvon’s story, has everything to do with today. For her part, Fulton hopes this is a series that will be able to help facilitate social progress in a country that seems more divided than ever before. “The documentary really is very emotional, it’s very intense, but it’s very real,” she told Deadline. “We just want people to basically take away from it awareness, just to be aware what’s happening in this country, so that they can start to get more involved in making a positive change.”
The Deadline Studio at Tribeca is presented by Nespresso.