By David-Elijah Nahmod, June 2018 Issue.
In the first episode of “Let Nina Prosper,” Eboni Sadé’s comedic new web series that follows a queer woman of color as she navigates love, friendship, family and her career, the title-character is moving in with her sweet, yet slightly unorganized girlfriend.
Nina (Sadé) expresses concern about Laila’s (Devin Nelson) propensity for hoarding, though it’s obvious that the two women love each other. Fast forward to the end of the episode, which runs 6 minutes and 37 seconds, and they’re joined on the front steps of their building by a friend as they enjoy celebratory cocktails as a reward for their hard day’s work.
A total of four characters appear in the opening episode, and all of them are women of color.
“I’ve always yearned to see queer women of color loving each other on TV and film formats,” said Sadé, the series’ writer, director, producer and star. “Queer women of color are simply underrepresented. I created a series that I wanted to see, a show about queer women of color being funny, strengthening friendships, building romance and, yes, struggling and failing to get it right at times.”
The series is shot in Jersey City, N.J., where Sadé grew up as an only child with her mother and grandmother.
“From as early as I can remember, I loved the art of storytelling,” she recalled. “I remember writing a short story at 11 years old about an exotic dancer raising two children on her own. I didn’t know anyone with that particular experience, but my imagination ran wild and I realized my passion of creating stories.”
Sadé’s first story is right in line with the kind of work she hopes to create today: stories about the underdog.
“The underserved, the underrepresented, the characters that color just outside of society’s lines,” she explained. “As a queer woman of color, I love to pen stories about other queer women who are multifaceted and exist, in spite of.”
According to Sadé, her coming out story is a brief one. She knew that she was attracted to girls when she was 8 years old, which was met with support from her family.
“I initially came out to my mother who asked a lot of questions, but was extremely supportive from the very beginning,” she said. “My family is extremely supportive of the work that I do. It’s also a great feeling to see them share the episodes on social media and encourage their friends to view the series.”
Sadé brings to the table an undergrad degree from Howard University and a master’s degree in Digital Cinema Production from The New School in New York City.
“The New School gave me the [tools] to visually tell a compelling or a funny story within a condensed platform,” she said. “The idea of ‘Let Nina Prosper’ came from a short film that I wrote and directed about a queer couple dealing with life, love and relationships. I decided to adapt the short film as a web series to allow accessibility to the content while also tackling an array of conflicts with each episode.”
In addition to writing, directing, producing and starring in the series, Sadé is also credited as one of three directors of photography.
“As a writer, director, and actor in a series, you are many things to many different people and the multiple hats sort of stack onto each other rather than interchange,” she said. “It was certainly interesting to be the director while also being a part of a scene. You’re listening for the lines in a certain way, giving a certain feeling, while also being in tune with your own character.”
“Let Nina Prosper” has been financed through 225 Cinema, Sadé’s own company, with an overall the budget ranging from $20,000 to 22,000. Looking forward, she added that she hopes to monetize the series for season two.
“The first season has seven episodes shot solely in Jersey City,” she said. “Once the season finale air[ed] on April 24, [I stepped] back into the writer’s room to brainstorm topics for season two.”
Sadé promises that “Let Nina Prosper” offers something for everyone.
“It’s a series about love, friendship, and trying to figure it all out,” she said. “Whether you identify within the LGBTQIA community or not, there is something that feels familiar within each episode.”
For more information, or to watch the first season of “Let Nina Prosper,” visit letninaprosper.com.