Editor’s Note: Five years ago we had an idea. Being a woman-owned publication, it made sense to celebrate women who were making a difference in the industries we cover. So, we started a feature for Women’s History Month called “Reel Women.” Over the last four years, we have gotten to know leaders, mentors and visionaries from a variety of creative industries. This is our 5th Annual REEL WOMEN. For the month of March, let us introduce you to some very special women like educator, filmmaker, writer, artist, PhD, and co-founder of OBE Studios, Jasmine Monet Brewer.
Jasmine Monet Brewer is an educator, filmmaker, writer, artist and co-founder of OBE Studios located just outside of Chicago in Merrillville, IN. Born and raised in Oakland, CA, Jasmine relocated to Los Angeles in 2006 in pursuit of higher education. While earning a BA in Political Science, with a minor in African American Studies, a Master’s in Educational Studies and a PhD in Educational Policy, Evaluation and Reform, with a certificate in Women and Gender Studies, Jasmine dabbled in singing, dancing and stage acting and eventually began a career in film and television. Having worked behind the scenes in the entertainment industry for over ten years, Jasmine has a wealth of experience in project management and development, production and budget management. Jasmine’s unique blend of lived experiences, professional preparation and academic endeavors have equipped her with a rich fund of knowledge that enhances her abilities as a filmmaker and storyteller.
Let’s meet Jasmine.
What’s your origin story?
Growing up in a low-income, single parent household in Oakland, CA, I acquired a passion for the imaginative at a young age. There were always two things that helped me find escape from my harsh reality: books and TV. I relied on my relationship with literature to get me out of Oakland. After winning a ten-year scholarship from Bill Gates, I relocated to Los Angeles where I studied political science, African American studies, women and gender studies and educational policy, earning a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree and a PhD.
My background in education afforded me the chance to study the impact positive self-image has on children. Research shows, that when children see positive examples of people that look like them, they have higher self-esteem, higher self-efficacy and greater life outcomes. While developing a social studies curriculum that teaches black and brown students their cultural heritage outside of the standard U.S. historical narrative context of slavery and the limited confines of Black History Month, I realized, film and television could have the same impact.
How did you get into the film industry?
Upon completing my studies, I realized the profound impact media has on society and began pursuing a career in film and television. As a filmmaker, I use the medium to tell stories that show positive images of Blackness; stories that normalize Blackness to a nation that often, still, sees us as foreign. As a studio owner, not only do I create content that supports this narrative, but I also create a space for other filmmakers to do the same.
Since 2010, I have worked on numerous projects, in a variety of roles including, but not limited to, executive producer, producer and assistant director. In 2022, my husband, actor and comedian Barry Brewer, and I opened a film studio in Merrillville, IN — OBE Studios. OBE stands for Only Believe Entertainment. As two kids growing up in challenging areas, East Oakland and the Southside of Chicago, my husband and I relied on our faith to deliver us out of our circumstances. We named our company Only Believe Entertainment because we seek to inspire others to do the same.
While there will be others, what do you consider your biggest achievement to date?
As a filmmaker, my greatest achievement so far was having one of our independently produced titles, Chicago I’m Home, land on Amazon Prime and air on the CW network.
What drives you to create?
I’ve always had an artistic side. Singing, dancing and acting in local productions has been something I have done since the 3rd grade. That passion for performance, the freedom of expression, that’s what drives me. Additionally, I love the ability to tell stories that haven’t been told and to allow artists (in front of the camera and behind the camera) to showcase their talents by doing what they love.
What shows/movies/songs are doing the best job of portraying strong women on TV?
I recently watched Nzinga on Netflix and it really resonated with me. I enjoyed the story it told as it’s a narrative we definitely do not often hear. I think it did an amazing job of portraying women as strong figures; not just the lead but most of the women throughout the series.
I always research content as I am watching it and it was great to learn more about this herstory. I have heard some negative reviews of the documentary calling it a fairytale and revisionist. It’s tragic that so much African history was erased; that is the reason why people can even make those claims…because our stories have been forgotten, stolen and eradicated.
Is there still a boys club in your industry?
Absolutely. The film industry is still heavily led by men. As an owner/operator in business with a man, I often find myself asking questions and the answers being directed at my husband. Or men not maintaining eye contact with me when I speak.
Coffee, Lunch or Happy Hour. Name a famous woman (living or dead) you would like to attend each function with.
Coffee with Shirley Chisholm
Lunch with Angela Davis
Happy Hour with Michelle Obama.
Last year, the Supreme Court ruled against Roe v Wade. If you oppose the decision, what can women in your industry do to defend a woman’s rights?
As storytellers we have the ability to tell stories that make people think about the world around them. I can see the impact of that actualized in a story of an oppressive totalitarian regime whose tyranny is masked by a democratic cloak. We can also tell real stories that help others see the impact of the policies — this is where our documentary filmmakers shine.
What keeps you up at night?
Well right now, my 5-month-old son Bellamy, whom I adore, keeps me up most nights.
What’s up with Beyoncé being nominated for 4 Best Albums of the year but never winning?
It’s interesting. But ultimately, in my opinion, it comes down to the awarding body. It’s not a people’s choice award. Her talent and reach are undeniable, so she has to be nominated but ultimately her music is not in line with their taste.
OBE Studios website: obestudio.com
ALSO READ: MORE REEL WOMEN
ALSO READ: REEL 360 — REEL WOMEN
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