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Oreo: Four Women’s Stories Exploring Black Identity and Nonconformity

Oreo explores identity and nonconformity through four different black women’s experiences. The short film centers around the Ralph Waldo Emerson quote, “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” It looks at black identity through religion, class, race, and culture, and does so while bending genres with moments of dark comedy and surrealism. Cashmere Jasmine, disabled writer, director and RespectAbility Lab 2021 alum, strings together these four stories to create a complex and compelling conversation around identity and feeling rejected.

It opens with Jennifer (Ria Ridley) realizing she got her Black Card revoked and has to call the Black Bank of America to confirm her identity through a series of questions about the culture. She eventually loses her card when the “bank tellers” hear her country music in the background. This hilarious satire lays the groundwork for the rest of the short film and does so brilliantly.

The next section follows Mira (Kera) when her temper flares at a Youth Service at Church after her peers call her out for “talking white” and being rich. It explores class and intergenerational assumptions about black women, as Mira’s dad says he has to calm the temper she must have gotten from her mother.

Leigh (Emily Igwe) is the lead of the third story as she goes to a post-grad college party full of her white classmates and suffers through a never-ending cycle of microaggressions. It ends, as all of the sections do, with her looking straight into the camera, and this time saying, “you are not alone” – a phrase that she is repeating to herself. The breaking of the fourth wall helps transition us to each section and brings the audience in. This moment at the end of the third story is particularly powerful.

The last part of the short film brings all of the stories together. April (Talea Valdez) sits in a therapy session with the therapist and the personification of her insecurities (Lina Green). As they discuss the stories April shared, there are callbacks to earlier sections of the short film and the boxes each woman was put into. The “Insecure Being” interprets the therapist as calling her crazy, talking down and not believing her – an all too real reality for black women in our healthcare system.

Oreo proves the Emerson quote. In all sorts of situations, these women are not conforming to the group around them, leading to their identities being questioned. It tackles such a complex topic with ease. It is also shot dynamically and plays with light and contrast in a way that supports the overall storytelling process. The short film is like a rollercoaster – full of twists and turns, but at the end it is clearly on a path and incredibly intentional. Cashmere creates work that uses her real-life experience to investigate taboos and identity. Oreo is a prime example of this. It is a compelling watch and only the beginning for Cashmere. As part of the Disney Launchpad program, her next short film will be released on Disney+ in the summer of 2023.

Watch Oreo on Vimeo.

Meet the Author

Maddie Jones
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