LGBTQ&A: Isaiah Solomon Freeman

A queer filmmaker of color on his new short film, White|Wash.

Photo of Isaiah Solomon Freeman.

Isaiah Solomon Freeman

White|Wash, directed by Philly native Isaiah Solomon Freeman, is an experimental horror film — set in an imaginary world where marginalized images are the standard — about an aspiring actress and single mother who experiments with bleaching when she realizes there are roles for women of a darker complexion.

What inspired you to do this film?
Growing up, I had self-confidence issues. I realized that I hated my features that didn’t represent European features. I hated my nose, my complexion, and my lips. I talked to friends who felt the same way about themselves. When it came to writing my senior thesis film, I wanted to do a horror film, but I also wanted a film that dealt with race. I was reading The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison, when I realized that dealing with colorism would be a perfect topic to get a conversation started as well as incorporate a horror feel.

What were the challenges in getting this project off the ground?
Honestly, besides raising money with no job, connecting with Vivian, the female character, who was dealing with the issues. I had to reach out to black women to help me identify, especially since the film department at my school, University of the Arts, didn’t have any people of color on the faculty.

A scene from White|Wash.

A scene from White|Wash.

How does the intersection of blackness and queerness inspire your work?
I identify myself as a person of color before anything, but I want to do a film that deals with being a person of color who identifies as LGBTQ. It’s rough, absolutely one of the most difficult things in my life. The obstacles inspire me and have driven me to a documentary that I actually want to direct very soon.

What is it like being a part of Philly’s queer youth creative scene?
Inspiring! I work with youth now who have so any beautiful and unique ideas. They thirst for a creative outlet, and I love it.

What advice would you give to new filmmakers navigating a voice in this city?
Don’t give up. It’s hard, but you can and will create anything you desire of you hustle and don’t stop. Also, ignore anyone who tells you you can’t, use that to push you and prove them wrong.

You can check out Isaiah Solomon Freeman’s film work on his official Vimeo page.