Ajani Amiri Thomas is an aspiring filmmaker and the founder of Sesh Collective, a creative community and workspace at Howard University.
Amiri began Sesh Coolective when he noticed that his friends were all creating amazing works of art, but separately. He wanted to give them and others the opportunity to enhance their work by sharing it in a safe space with likeminded individuals.
“I think with my art I just want to create a hub. First I want to create a hub for artists of color where they can feel safe,” explained Amiri about his motivation to begin Sesh Collective.
Most recently, Amiri debuted his film, Crispus, on Sesh Collective. Crisupusreimagines the story of Kalief Browder. Kalief Browder was an Black man from New York. At only 16 years old, Browder was accused of stealing a backpack containing an alleged expensive camera. He was jailed on Rikers Island for three years, until the prosecutors case was found to be lacking sufficient evidence. However, during his time on Rikers Island, Browder was locked in solitary confinement, and, unable to assimilate back into society after having his teenage years stolen from him, Browder committed suicide by hanging shortly after his release.
Through this film, Amiri hoped to show how people can become trapped in their own minds, as well as highlighting the cruelty often prevalent in the criminal justice system. Crispus has already accumulated over 2,000 views since its release on IGTV.
Additionally, Sesh Collective was able to successfully fundraise $10,000 to take 13 creatives, including Amiri, to the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.
In the future, Amiri plans to continue and expand both his filmmaking and his work with Sesh Collective. Sesh Collective’s non-profit branch currently has plans to house creative incubators at colleges and universities around the nation, as well as to create more films, animation series, and more.
“I want to continue that constant drive of positivity and help get more people on the screen and in the industry who look like us, through a company that can hopefully be the next big media company. This is just the first step of that,” said Amiri.