Written by Nura Ahmed
Cinematographer and producer Anthony Tuckett has been on a mission to make Seattle more inclusive for black filmmakers for over a decade. Tackett felt out of place due to his experience working in the Seattle film industry, so he made it his goal to create a space where people like him could feel there was community within the film industry. For his achievements, he was eventually appointed to the newly formed Seattle Film Commission in April.
Tuckett was born and raised in Seattle, and his family roots run deep in the Central District. Before he was born, his family had moved into Section 8 housing north of Seattle, meaning he was always around white people, and his family was one of his few black families in the neighborhood. But he still managed to find community wherever he was. “All the kids of color were hanging out with each other,” Tuckett said.
His love of movies began in the 80’s when he attended Franklin High School as part of a bus program implemented to help desegregate schools. A natural talent for leadership, he captained the football team while still in his sophomore year until an injury forced him to sit on the bench for the rest of the season. During this forced school closure, he took a class in video production for his Q-TV program at Franklin College and spent the rest of high school learning the basics of video production. He fell in love with the camera thanks to this program.
Immediately after graduation, Tuckett apprenticed at the Film Workshop at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute. There he was not only tutored, but also learned the basics of film and camerawork as a cinematographer’s apprentice on a film produced for the show. Tackett experienced what it was like to be on a movie set for the first time after his mentor invited him to be a camera production assistant on a short film he was making. Production assistants help film crews with everything they need, from running errands to standing in for the crew.
He was one of the only black filmmakers to be on set and it was an unwelcome sentiment that persisted throughout his work for over a decade, being rejected by other filmmakers simply because he was black. level of hostility. As a young filmmaker, it was already difficult enough to establish himself in the industry without a connection or someone pushing him, and Tuckett has spent much of his career working with the people who opened doors for him in his early days. but out, that wasn’t always the case. “There is a lot more to this industry than usual with other filmmakers who are similar to themselves, even though they don’t want to nurture you or help you establish themselves in this industry. There are unwelcome people who want to spend a lot of their time and energy, you,” he explained.
I also sometimes felt that the people I worked with were tokenized. He faced microaggressions and became someone you could talk to about anything race-related. This experience continued throughout his film career. “They ask me, ‘Anthony, is this racist?’ And I would have to answer,” Tuckett said. But for blacks, the luxury of shouting racism when they see it in an all-white environment is not a given and often comes with consequences. “I was afraid that if I rebelled or said something, I would not be hired for the job,” he said.
Tackett understood how the space was not created for black filmmakers to truly succeed. He’s seen how the underrated filmmakers aren’t in place to help them feel like they belong or don’t feel alone.
But when he traveled to Washington, D.C. to help record the 1995 Million March, he was struck by speaker Louis Farrakhan’s words and had an epiphany. As a result, he founded the Seattle Filmmakers of the African Diaspora. Tackett invited every black filmmaker he had ever met on the set of a movie to a rally at Africatown Plaza, where 30 people gathered. “We talked about what the black experience was like on a movie set and everyone said the same thing,” he said. “All I wanted was to start that conversation, and we continued that conversation.”
The group has grown to 550 members since its inception. Tuckett not only creates a space for black filmmakers, but also shares resources, speaks out against the inherent racism that exists on movie sets, and allows people like him to have a place in it. We have continued to build communities by helping break down barriers so that we can. Then no one will have to feel like they are in this industry. “All I care about is whether I can make sure I don’t feel left out on set where other black filmmakers claim to care about them,” he said. he said.
While Tackett continued to build community and create a space for black filmmakers, racial considerations were surfacing outside the film world. The George Floyd protests and continued struggle to expand black voices resulted in the establishment of the Seattle Film Task Force. This was initially a space to start conversations about how Seattle can support black filmmakers and how the community can help black filmmakers succeed in the industry. Mr. Tuckett was a member of the Task Force and he was not afraid to speak honestly about his experiences. “We have to have the courage to overcome the fear of losing our jobs or even our friendships,” he says.
The task force wanted to know how to make the Seattle movie scene more inclusive for black filmmakers. Tuckett collected responses from African discrete filmmakers in Seattle and submitted those responses directly to the Task Force.
The Seattle Film Commission’s bylaws were ultimately modeled after those responses. “Council member Sarah Nelson said that everything the film commission is based on is because of the conversations I had with everyone,” Tuckett said.
Tackett talks about how far his courage has taken him and how working with community building helped him create the type of space he wanted when he first stepped into the film industry. I understand what helped you. It caught the attention of the Seattle City Council, and on April 23rd of this year, he was appointed to the 10th seat of the Seattle Film Commission, which Nelson founded last month. Tuckett’s role is to support the industry’s traditionally underrepresented film collective. His objective on the Commission is to ensure that the film industry is as fair as possible and that steps are taken to ensure accountability. “Diversity, equity and inclusion will overlap in every conversation on the Commission,” he said.
He knows his job is what got him here and that it will help him succeed as a commissioner. “If you’re interested in his DEI in the industry, show it,” Tuckett said.
All that Mr. Tuckett did in the moments leading up to his appointment was to “make sure we all have a place in the big, beautiful skies above” and to ensure that no one, regardless of race, was left behind. just his way. “I’m really just holding up a piece of the sky.”
“I owe a lot of what I do to my parents, who taught me from a young age to assert myself in a world that would try to shut you up,” Tuckett said. . “Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
Nura Ahmed I am an organizer, writer and artist based in Seattle and South King County..
📸 Featured Image: Anthony Tucket at an event for black mothers. (Photo credit: Anthony Tuckett)
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