This week saw the release of “Change Gon' Come,” the latest music video from Gemikia Henderson, a promising 21-year-old director living in Richmond who has clear message she wants to get across.
“We wanted to show what young people go through,” she explains, on the phone from Richmond. “How young people see it in the community is the only way you make money is to sell drugs. The only way you can fit in is if you do something you may not be comfortable with. We wanted to show it takes just one person to say no, and to lead people down the right path.”
Over a track produced by XaiBeats and featuring Young D, Peeps, DonBlak and BraKeen, the video—a project of the RYSE Center filmed in various Richmond neighborhoods—unfolds in stark black and white until a pivotal moment that represents hope for a better life.
Henderson's connection to that hope is a personal one. In 2011, she lost her best friend to gun violence. “He knew some people who had did some wrong things, and he reaped the consequences for that by association," she says. "He was killed because of what other people that he knew did, or whatever he did in the past that he'd let go. But the person who killed him wasn't gonna let that go.”
Whether kids get pigeonholed into the life at a young age, or stuck in the system before they're teenagers, Henderson says, “No matter what you do, you'll have to fight to show people, 'I'm a different person.'”
Her next project is a “women's anthem” music video, with a similar message of empowerment, featuring Nya McDowell, a teenage spoken-word artist who took top honors at the YouthSpeaks Grand Slam Championship on 2012. “Being a female director, being a female rapper, being a female graffiti artist, or a female doctor or nurse—that's pretty damn dope, and that's very powerful, because a lot of those things are male-dominated,” she says. “So we wanna show young women that you can step up, and lead in your role, and be the queen that you are.”
As for the long term? Henderson's currently writing her first short feature film, “and hopefully I'll get it into Sundance by the end of the year.”