ActivismFilm / TVLGBTQIA+
Made In Her Image is Disrupting the Entertainment Industry, One Girl at a Time
By KD Bias
May 16, 2022
Malakai is doing more than shaking the table. She’s building a brand new one. A table that seats young girls, women, and non-binary youth of color through the art of filmmaking and media.
Malakai founded Made In Her Image (MIHI) in July 2018 in Phoenix, AZ. The non-profit organization has since grown to host over 400 participants in the Greater Los Angeles and Phoenix areas. Born out of the negligence of women of color at the helm of creative spaces, MIHI strategically builds a career pipeline and places representation directly into the hands of the young women & communities who need it the most.
It Truly Takes A Village to Cultivate Talented Youth
Named As one of BET’s dopest filmmakers to watch this year, and Combined with her experience as a former STEM and media educator, and notable filmmaker (Souls, and now in development for the feature Near Witch) Malakai partnered with a team of board members and community leaders to help propel MIHI’s mission. Among them is actress and director Ashley Versher who participates as the Digital Communications Coordinator.
Versher brings an effervescence to the table with the understanding that film and media appear differently on screen depending on whose lens is capturing the story. She also notes how challenging it can be to “believe you can do something if you don’t see someone like you doing it.” Her work with MIHI is passion-driven and an undoubtedly moving experience.
Corporate partners see the value in MIHI too. Conglomerates like Panavision, Sundance, Universal, Disney and Ford Motors recognize the need for diversity in the media space.
They provide exclusive access and firsthand knowledge of the film industry. Spot 127 and Phoenix Center For The Arts have also pitched in. In addition, The Computer Club House Network premiered MIHI participants’ films at L.A.’s premier talent agency, CAA.
The Kids Are Alright
Malakai’s students, or visionaries, are further proof of the importance of the platform. Nia Chanel snagged the role of Kai in Souls and later a role in the ABC sitcom Abbott Elementary. She was invited to the first campaign shoot for Made In Her Image and credits the community for giving her “constant exposure and knowledge of what it takes to be behind the camera.”
Another bright star is Anah Ambuchi, a 14-year-old Kenyan American actress, writer, producer, and director. Ambuchi took the screenwriting workshop in the spring of 2020 and received one-on-one mentoring with Malakai. She had previously wrote, produced, and directed her award-winning short film, Made in His Image. The work is based on her experience with bullying.
Ambuchi’s talents also landed her commercials with Nickelodeon, Build-A-Bear, American Girl Doll, and a role on SHOWTIME’s acclaimed drama series, The Chi – to name a few. She hopes to be a filmmaker that creates projects that are “inspiring, uplifting, will make a difference, and spark crucial conversations.”
Ambuchi, Chanel, and so many of MIHI’s visionaries are well on their way to capturing their dreams.
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