“Old enough to be cool, young enough to act a fool” is how my friends and I describe(d) our late 20s. The corny phrase was the best we could do to make sense of the amorphous period between the legal drinking age and the stamp of adulthood: 30. What are you doing after graduation? Is this guy serious? Can I afford to follow my dreams? Watching Shayla Racquel’s web series, “Quarter Century,” reminds us that we’ve all been there.
The budding filmmaker tells our stories through her series, so it was a privilege to have her share her own story with A*cute.
Filmmaker Shayla Racquel says everyone isn’t going to like what you’re doing, but follow your dreams for YOU.
What inspires you?
When I was born, I was diagnosed with Sickle Cell Disease. Having continuous sickle cell crisis, a stroke at 12 years old, and constant blood transfusions, I could have easily felt sorry for myself and written off my future of excelling and being on my own. Instead, filmmaking became my outlet and I allowed my illness to motivate me to give 110% to anything that I set my mind on.
God, my family, and my friends are also my true motivators, which helps me in turn motivate myself. my family and friends have supported everything I’ve done. Being a very spiritual person, I know that there is no limit to how far you can go with God on your side, and he has continued to bless me throughout this entire venture.
Nevertheless, it is not hard to be motivated and inspired by something that you have a passion for and that is truly in your heart.
When did you first become interested in film?
When I was 12 years old, I had a stroke due to my Sickle Cell disease. Film became my outlet from that particular aspect of my life. As a present to my grandparents during the holidays, I started making videos featuring all the grandchildren in my family. This became a tradition that we still hold today. From there, I made videos throughout high school and college. Florida A&M University gave me plenty of opportunities to explore and hone my craft. That’s when I decided that I would like to make my filmmaking hobby into a career.
Did anyone ever try to dissuade you from following your passion?
I had been making videos since I was little, so no one (especially not my family) has ever tried to dissuade me from being a filmmaker. However, when I first came up with the idea of Quarter Century, I pitched it to a number of friends. Most of them loved the idea, but I had a few who didn’t like it at all. When I asked why, I was never given a clear response. Of course it hurts, but that’s life. Everyone isn’t going to like what you are doing. Follow your dreams for YOU. YOU have to be the main reason why you want to do whatever it is you want to do.
If you’re doing it for the money, fame, or because someone else wants you to do it, you are going to get trampled by critiques, dislikes, and downright haters. It’s hard to dust yourself off from that; but, when you are doing it for yourself and not the gratification of others, no matter how much people dislike it, it won’t phase you. As you accomplish your goals you will feel even more complete.
“Quarter Century” follows a relatable cast of characters who are caught in the awkward stage of determining what it means to be “grown.”
How do you balance your day job with filming your web series? Continue reading