Geena Davis’s Bentonville Film Foundation (BFFoundation) has selected McKenzie Chinn as the inaugural recipient of a $25,000 grant to fund her short film, A Real One, from NBCUniversal. This continues BFFoundation’s mission of inclusivity through research, education and supporting the production and distribution of inclusive content
Chinn was selected earlier this year as one of eight BFFoundation alumni chosen for the first-ever annual See It, Be It Filmmaker Fellowship which provides broad developmental support for filmmakers from historically underrepresented communities. In partnership with The Coca-Cola Foundation, fellows receive professional support from peers, entertainment industry leaders, and major corporate changemakers, in addition to financial backing.
“After working as a writer, producer, and actor on my feature, Olympia, and making my narrative directorial debut with A Real One, receiving this gracious support from the BFFoundation and NBCUniversal marks a turning point in my filmmaking career, and to say that I’m deeply grateful is a vast understatement,” said Chinn. “Not only does this recognition and funding help pave my path forward, but it also equips me with the resources needed to create a truly beautiful film that I hope will have a lasting and positive cultural impact.”
“Alongside NBCUniversal, we are absolutely honored to provide McKenzie Chinn with this support as she carries out the tremendous vision for her short film, A Real One,” said Davis, co-founder of the BFFoundation. “McKenzie’s voice is strong and uncompromised. She is an artist with the power to impact not only the culture of the entertainment industry but, at this critical moment in time, our society’s culture-at-large as well. We cannot wait to see what’s next for her.”
In Chinn’s A Real One, a bright teenager living in a working-class neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago discovers the power and beauty of true friendship when her illicit relationship with a teacher is discovered amid the final weeks of her senior year of high school. The story is inspired by Chinn’s examination of who, as society progresses and becomes more equitable, is looking out for some of the most vulnerable among us — America’s young, Black girls.
Craig Robinson, EVP & Chief Diversity Officer, NBCUniversal, added, “The See It, Be It Filmmaker Fellowship is a wonderful response to the essential need in the entertainment industry to make substantial commitments in developing voices from underrepresented communities. Now more than ever, NBCUniversal is proud to uplift the voices of artists like McKenzie Chinn and congratulate her on winning this honor. McKenzie displays grace and passion in her work, and we are excited to witness her career flourish.”
Chinn is the writer, producer, and lead actor of the feature film Olympia, which premiered at the 2018 LA Film Festival and won the Audience Award at the 2019 Bentonville Film Festival. She has appeared in indie films and on television, including shows like Empire and The Red Line. On stage, she has worked with Goodman, Victory Gardens, and Steppenwolf Theaters, as well as the famous Second City in Chicago, and Woolly Mammoth and The Studio Theater in Washington D.C. An accomplished poet, her work has appeared in TriQuarterly, Rattle, PANK, and others, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She is part of the acclaimed Growing Concerns Poetry Collective, which released their second studio album Big Dark Bright Futures earlier this year.