Education around AI is so important because we are not only headed that way, we are in the revolution right now. Whether we want to be aware of it or not, it’s happening. Within our communities we are not having a lot of conversations about it, you know, but everybody else is. I did the MIT AI filmmaking hackathon, and it was 90 percent Asian. I think there was one other Black dude and a handful of white people. Every other community knows the value of AI, and they’re using it, whether they’re talking about it or not. We just seem hesitant to jump into these conversations.

Is your hope to change the perception of how Black people engage with AI?

All my media I make is Black. But especially when I make the AI films, I purposefully make a point to imagine new worlds. There’s nothing wrong with Tyler Perry—no shade to him—but I want us to get excited like when we saw Wakanda or Lovecraft Country or whatever Jordan Peele makes. There is a feeling of, We’ve been waiting for images, movies, and narratives like this. So I think I get such a good response, and so many people DM me, because other people want to create stories like this.

To make a film using the traditional Hollywood methods is too difficult. Now there are tools that allow us to. I think we’re going to get to the point where we can make our own Star Wars movies for a fraction of the cost. It’s exciting because now we can tell our own stories, or partner with people to tell bigger stories.

That was my entry point into your work. The Lickback Renaissance is a world that deserves to be explored. On the flip side, you mention how films can now be made for a fraction of the cost because of AI. What’s your response to people who say that thinking is antithetical to the industry’s survival, and the people who make it work?

I can’t speak on the industry too much because I’m not in it. And I never got a check from the industry. That was part of the reason I went hard with AI. The [Writers Guild of America] sent out a notice saying, if you do anything you’re going to get blackballed. I said, let me count all the checks I got from the WGA—and it was zero [laughs]. They’d never done anything for me, so I had nothing to lose.

I’m pro-human, first and foremost. But I also recognize that we do have these tools available. And it would behoove you to use them. The costs are gonna come down anyway as tech becomes more available, the same way you see what happened in the music industry. To record a song 20 years ago, you needed a big budget. Now you got 14-year-olds making hits in their mom’s basement.

On TikTok.

So it all depends on the artists. The great artists of the day are going to find a way to rise to the top and make it work.

Being Black in an American context, we’ve always had to adapt to survive. It’s about not getting left behind in this next tech revolution.

A lot of the time, we are the ones who get the short end of the stick. We have to learn as much as we can about AI so we can be on some sort of level playing field. Like, I’m not developing Midjourney software. I don’t know people who work there. And then if they say, no more Midjourney for you, what do I do? I mean, I’m gonna figure it out. But if we can learn these tools and start to build our own tools, then we’re really cooking.

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