Filmmaker Deon Taylor and partner Roxanne Taylor will host a drive-through event via their initiative to help register a half-million new voters by Nov. 3.
Filmmaker Deon Taylor and partner Roxanne Taylor of Hidden Empire Film Group (Black and Blue, Meet the Blacks) will be posted up in Compton with famous friends like Jamie Foxx, Michael Ealy and Marlon Wayans in tow. There will be music, food, approximately 3,000 T-shirts, up to $10,000 in gas cards to give away, and a Rolls-Royce Phantom as a photo backdrop.
But the most important element at this community gathering, Deon explains, will be voter registration forms.
The event is a drive-through for the Taylors’ initiative Be Woke.Vote in partnership with the city of Compton, Mayor Aja Brown, community organizations Compton Kidz Club, the Youth Vote and the NAACP of Compton. It serves as the kick-off for 30-40 more stops to come across the United States leading up to the November election with a focus on urban areas and reaching young and diverse voters.
Be Woke.Vote officially launched in 2018, but Deon says they’ve been active “in the streets” since the last presidential election. It wasn’t until the midterm that they moved to formalize the initiative, an effort that got early support from Van Jones and businessman Robert Smith. In addition to signing up nearly 30,000 new voters, Be Woke.Vote was behind the Jones-hosted web series The Messy Truth, which won two Webby Awards in 2019.
More recently, the organization debuted a PSA, “#LadiesBeWoke,” to commemorate 100 years of women’s suffrage that featured Kim Kardashian West, Maxine Waters and Chelsea Handler. The roots, however, run deeper for Deon and Roxanne.
“We come from inner cities, me in Chicago and Baltimore for her. We had no idea what voting even meant growing up,” says Deon, whose next effort, Fatale, starring Hilary Swank and Ealy is due out in October. “When I got older and found a career in filmmaking, I began to go back into inner cities and saw that I was just like these kids and I didn’t care [at the time].”
So the initiative focuses on education and showing young people what kind of impact a vote can have on a community when it’s cast for city council members, judges, mayors and other top city posts. “We are so fascinated with voting for the president that we often forget about localized voting,” he says. “You don’t realize how powerful it is and how it can change an entire community. The biggest trick that’s been played on us is telling us that our vote doesn’t count.”
The goal, Deon says, is to register half a million new voters by Nov. 3. As for where he’ll be on Election Night, Deon says it’s most likely he’ll be in battleground state Florida with a mask on, helping young voters get their ballots in the box.
“This situation we are in right now, it is not about Black. It is about humanity. For the first time we need everyone collectively — white, brown, LGBTQ voters — to be fighting for humanity. We all bleed, we all hurt, we have all been out of work. When you see someone constantly pushing the narrative of hate, we want to represent good. We want to go in and tell people you can make a change. There is a better day coming.”
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