Interview with DONTA STOREY | I AM WORTHY TO LIVE THE FULLEST OF WHO I AM
I AM WORTHY! The three words engraved within us since forever, the three words that carry the energy that indicates the fullest of who we are, the three words that feel absent when we turn away from them.
It is normal to be influenced by our environment which at times can bring us into the feeling of fear and pain. When we experience something we love, we feel good; when we observe or experience something we dislike, we feel the opposite. That conditionality within the context we are living can make us question our worthiness, especially when we are different from what is normally accepted by our environment and society at large.
We are all continually in a state of becoming and perhaps the only thing to give up is the unworthy state of being that clutters our perspective to accomplish the life we consider best for us. Taking care of ourselves first, meaning caring about how we feel, accepting who we are, and never giving up our greatness for others, will take us to embrace our innate worthiness. We are worthy just by being here on planet Earth, we are worthy just by existing, we are beings that lead and uplift by our own example.
To love feels so good; we are all lovers by nature. Non-binary artist Donta Storey, who wrote and directed their first film LiME, says about the impact of the co-creative process in themselves: “It changed the way I move in terms of self-love and support.” LiME, which is streaming now on Amazon Prime, is based on Donta’s personal story, it is their love letter to the world, especially to the African American Queer Youth community with an intention to inspire them and to remind them: YOU ARE WORTHY!
In this insightful interview, Donta shares their emotional journey and inspiration behind LiME, as well as their creative process and satisfaction of seeing it physically manifested.
- The artistically creative expression of talents within the entertainment industry is evolving into more diverse and inclusive storytelling. Why do you think this is happening and how do you envision the industry’s future?
I think it’s happening because the industry doesn’t have much of a choice but to be inclusive. We live in a time where the stories that are being told have to reflect the world that we live in. It’s something audiences are demanding. I think there are gatekeepers who support inclusion, and because of their support, we have a much more colorful pallet of talent creating right now.
- As a storyteller, how does it feel to you when words flow through your whole beingness becoming stories molded into a physical form?
It’s still very surreal to me, but it feels amazing. I’m very proud of writing and directing LiME because it’s message is one that I believe in, and one that I feel is always nice to be reminded of. To be apart of creating something that starts conversations and hopefully inspires audiences is really magical. With film sometimes the director or the actors get all of the glory, but before anyone can say action, we have to have a solid story. It’s the foundation, so to see the seeds you plant grow into an actual physical piece is truly amazing.
- Inspired in your own life’s story, you wrote LiME, a film where you also debuted as a director and is streaming now on Amazon Prime. How would you describe your emotional journey during the creation of the film?
I’m a huge therapy advocate. I believe in self-care religiously, and LiME came from me addressing traumas from my youth, and at the time I didn’t realize it would become what it became. The entire experience from writing to filming and watching it with my first audience was extremely cathartic and rewarding. At the time I was on a journey of healing, and LiME allowed me to live in my truth, the same way the character Deshawn does in the film. I’m very emotionally connected to this film, and I can honestly say that I’m a stronger and more confident person because I poured into something that was super authentic and necessary for my personal and artistic growth.
- What’s the meaning you gave to the word “lime,” the title of the film, within the context of your story?
LiME isn’t only a film about overcoming adversity, but it’s my personal love letter to the community that I grew up in, and to be completely honest, the street I grew up on is named Lime Ave. During the film, you learn more about why I used the sweet lime as a metaphor to represent the bitterness and the sweetness that can sometimes come when you live in your truth.
- LiME was filmed in Compton, the LA’s neighborhood where you grew up. How did you relive your past by experiencing Compton from the perspective of someone who is fulfilled with your becoming?
I think going back to film my first film in Compton kind of felt full circle to me. I remember daydreaming of making movies as a kid walking from school every day, and I never thought I would be doing that on the very streets I walked as a kid. When I moved away from Compton, I remember thinking I would never return because of some of the things I encountered while living there, but I remember feeling such pride during scouting locations with my crew. When we finally got around to filming, I was able to appreciate the lessons, the people, and the culture a lot more than I did before. There can be so much beauty in our scars once we allow them to heal.
- The main character called Deshawn is played by actor Urian Ross. During the cast selection, how did Urian’s performance connect with you?
Urian Ross is a gem and such a dedicated giving actor. I recently watched LiME at home with some friends, and we couldn’t stop discussing the pain in Deshawn’s eyes during some of the heavier scenes. I remember not being able to decide on an actor to portray Deshawn until I saw Urian’s audition. He brought such a vulnerability and angst to the character. He was the only actor who made me feel like I had finally met a version of Deshawn that embodied a younger me while filling him with such a refreshing unfamiliar joy.
- How has the flow of energies during the co-creative process between the LiME’s cast and the crew influenced the final result of the film?
LiME was a total collaborative effort. I acted as one of the producers on the film, so it was really cool to sit in on the decision-making across the board, but it was also really cool to have people on the team you knew wanted to elevate the film at every corner. I can’t thank my cast and crew enough. We worked very hard and long hours without complaint. I think that’s what’s really amazing about indie films. These kinds of movies don’t get made if people don’t actually give a damn. LiME is a labor of passion and dedication. Our success is surely shared.
- Beyond the desire to share your story with others, what did the process of creating LiME meant to you inwardly, for your soul, so to speak?
As I shared earlier, the entire experience and the film itself were and are very cathartic for me. As an actor you don’t get to choose, you’re chosen a lot of the times, and LiME gave me the green light to truly believe in my ability to write a story that matters but to direct and produce a film on my own. I walked away from this project with insane confidence. It changed the way I move in terms of self-love and support.
- What are your expectations about the audience’s take away from watching LiME?
LiME is a story about overcoming adversity, and it is a film about not giving up and learning to walk with your head held high in your truth despite the bitterness the world may toss at you. It’s a lot like what’s happening right now with the fight against police brutality. No matter how difficult it gets, or how much things seem to be at a standstill, you can’t give up. You’re worth it. We are worth it. I hope audiences, especially black queer youth, walk away with a renewed sense of ability. I hope they are jolted with inspiration to fight for the space they rightfully deserve. It is important not to give up on things that matter. I also hope that people who struggle with extended tolerance, compassion, and love for those who are different from them have a change of heart after watching this film.
- Dooley Does Murder! is the name of the dark comedy with horror elements that not only you wrote, but will also direct and act in as soon as film productions can continue again. What can you share about the film’s narrative behind its plot?
Dooley Does Murder! is my love letter to the campy horror genre. Dooley Does Murder! Follows an insecure, anxiety-riddled door to door vintage perfume salesman whose faced with a very abnormal attraction, that leads to murder. I’m really excited to show more of my style as a storyteller and visual artistry as a director on this project.
- Are you involved in any humanitarian cause you would like to mention?
I lend a lot of my time to supporting LGBTQIA youth, and of course, fighting for the lives and equality of black Americans in this country.
- How does joy during the creative process affect your own experience and in consequence the final manifestation of your actions?
Joy changes everything with me all the time for the better, but especially during the creative process. I love a jolt of inspiration, and typically when that happens, I really tap into the best version of my creative self. It typically elevates every aspect of my execution. It’s inspiring.