Event Recap


The Chicago release of the highly anticipated ‘Brown Girls’, a new web-series written by Fatimah Asghar and directed by Samantha Bailey of ‘You’re So Talented’.

‘Brown Girls’ is an intimate story of the lives of two young women of color. Leila is a South Asian-American writer just now owning her queerness. Patricia is a sex-positive Black-American musician who is struggling to commit to anything: job, art and relationships. While the two women come from completely different backgrounds, their friendship is ultimately what they lean on to get through the messiness of their mid-twenties.

Hosted by Jeez Loueez and performances by Jamila Woods, Sonia Denis, Nabila Hossain, Swati Tiwari, Lisa Mishra Music, Po’Chop.

This event is in partnership with AMFM at the Chicago Art Department.

It’s likely no accident that the title for the upcoming web series Brown Girls is in some way reminiscent of that of HBO’s series Girls.

But don’t worry.

The word ‘girls’ is pretty much all that the two dark comedies seem to have in common. For all the ground that Girls seemed to break back when it premiered in 2012, it has continued to ignore the rich and vital stories of non-white and queer women, stories that most of us know are as much a part of the fabric of urban American culture as Girls creator Lena Dunham believes her own to be.

Where Girls has become a reference point for white feminism, Brown Girls is poised to help further define intersectional feminism. Where Girls drops the ball, Brown Girls is ready to pick it up. And run.

Written by Fatimah Asghar of Dark Noise Collective and directed by Sam Bailey, creator of the web series You’re So Talented, the promising new Brown Girls puts the stories of two young women of color front and center. Leila, portrayed by Nabila Hossain, is a South Asian-American writer just starting to own her queerness. Patricia, played by rising comic Sonia Denis, is a sex-positive Black-American musician who is struggling to commit to anything: job, art, relationships, and the list goes on. While the two women come from different backgrounds, they lean on their friendship to navigate the messiness of their mid-twenties.

Yet Brown Girls’ recently released trailer, which features the entrancing grooves of rising neo-soul star Jamila Woods and Lisa Mishra suggests more than a simple story of millennial friendship and young grown-up angst in the city.

The series’ urban landscape is not of Chicago’s largely white-populated Northside, but instead is shot primarily in Chicago’s Southside Pilsen neighborhood. This landscape is satisfyingly less manicured, and a lot less white.

In fact, Brown Girls is so brown, it’s not white all.

I’m not kidding. There are literally — and I do mean literally — no white people in this trailer. Bailey and Asghar will tell you that not only is this is on purpose, but it’s true of the entire series. In creating the series, the two set out to make television about people of color that stands and speaks for itself, and is free of the white lens through which so many POC stories are still told.

Together with its cast and creative team, including the aforementioned Woods, who also serves as Music Consultant, Brown Girls is crafting a new space for brown stories — brown girls stories — and moving them, without apology, to the front of the line.

We’re living in a moment when the marginalized of our society are making the slow march toward the center. We’re living in a moment when the non-white, non-male, and queer are less and less beholden to respectability politics, are and moving decisively into the full power of their own identities. We’re living in a moment that is alternately and all together brown, female, and queer.

This is the moment that the trailer for Brown Girls celebrates. And I’m here for all of that.

Tune in to Open TV in February when episode one drops.


McKenzie is a writer living in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. Her poetry has appeared in Rogue Agent Journal and Voicemail Poems. She has performed her poetry as part of Chicago’s long-running, curated show-case Salonathon and The Inconvenience’s The Fly Honey Show, and shared creative nonfiction essays with Chicago’s 2nd Story. A Leonore Annenberg Artist Fellow, she wrote, produced, and appears in the independent feature film Olympia, currently in post-production. McKenzie is also an actor and teaching artist, and enjoys singing hip-hop to her cat Wifi.