Rae Leone Allen co-created, wrote, produced and acted in 195 Lewis, a dramedy series about a group of friends navigating the realities of being black, queer and polyamorous in New York City. The series will screen July 14th at OUTFEST.
Allen was new to media production, but she and co-creator/writer/producer Yaani Supreme worked with series director Chanelle Aponte Pearson and creative advisor Terence Nance (the founders of MVMT Films and respectively, the producer and director of An Oversimplification of Her Beauty) to shoot all of the pilot episode and about 40% of episodes 2-5. That was in 2013. They first premiered their pilot at the Black Star Film Festival in 2014.
Allen also spoke to the difficulty of taking on the still-substantial endeavor: “If I would have known what I know now, I might not be sitting here, so I’m really glad I didn’t know, honestly.” She learned about making LLC agreements, getting a tax ID number and issuing 1099s to crew making over $600 — all the nitty-gritty that goes into producing low-budget media. She essentially looked at the series as an investment as well as a resume item. “I don’t know what my 27-year-old self was thinking, but I’m glad she has the nerve,” she said, adding that while she was inspired by a lot of black lesbian series on YouTube, many were set in the south and didn’t reflect her life. She was passionate about making the series, and she learned what she had to in order to make it a reality.
The five episodes that comprise the first season of 195 Lewispremiered to a sold-out house at BAM Cinematek in Brooklyn and have continued to screen at film festivals including International Film Festival Rotterdam, Wicked Queer: LGBT Film Festival andMiFo LGBT Film Festival (Miami). More are upcoming, including Inside Out: Toronto LGBT Film Festival on May 28. A full list of their screenings plus their mailing list sign-up can be found at www.195Lewis.com.