A new web series is currently shooting its first season in Detroit. “Femme Queen Chronicles” seeks to tell the story of four trans women of color living in the Motor City. Created by activist Ahya Simone the show also features Trans Sistas of Color Executive Director Bre’ Campbell, Cierra Burks and Paige Michaels.
“I play Chanel, an optimistic, witty, popular, and eccentric creative who is trying to find herself and her passion in her own way, however bizarre and mischievous her methods are; Paige is Erykah, the responsible, sarcastic and serious best friend who is mainly concerned with securing her coin. Cierra plays Shevon, a glamorous showgirl, sex worker and lively mother figure with all the tea and toys, who is saving up for the one thing that means the most to her besides her children. And Bre’ is Amirah, an LGBT advocate and ‘perfect’ big sister that lives the perfect life with the perfect relationship – or so it seems on the surface.”
The impetus for the show happened innocently and organically, Simone said, following a TSCOP meeting last year.
“At the end of the meeting, one of the girls shouted something like ‘Girl, I’m hungry. What’s the tea?” Simone recalled. “We laughed in agreement and were worn out from this serious meeting about the work we were trying to achieve for the remainder of the year but we still wanted to hang out. So all seven of us trans women hopped in my car to go on an adventure to what ended up being Wendy’s and then KFC. On the way there, we just started talking about our lives and [laughing] about trans related stuff. At one point I had to pull over because I was laughing so hard. Soon after, one of the girls mentioned that we needed our own show and we agreed and I went on from there.”
Simone’s vision for the show came together quickly.
“I want this series to be a bit of a reprieve from the inundation of tragic stories about trans people of color,” she said. “I want to make fun of and subvert dominant narratives about trans women in media in a comedic but in authentic way. It’s a tribute to black trans women as multifaceted. I want ‘Femme Queen Chronicles’ to broaden the scope of what it means to be a Detroiter and who gets to be one. Although the majority of stories surrounding Detroit focus mainly on cisgender and heterosexual people, ‘Femme Queen Chronicles’ complicates those narratives to include Detroit queer and trans people of color.”
“The Femme Queen Chronicles” is sponsored by the Detroit Narrative Agency and TSCOP. Simone was also awarded $5,000 from the Knight Foundation.
“It’s been a very interesting experience,” Simone said. “I am a first-time filmmaker so I don’t have much to compare it to. However, it’s been pretty smooth. Our team was really, really eager to be a part of the project and believed in it so it made filming very fun and easy going. Everyone was accountable and did their part.”
Simone wanted to contain shooting within the city of Detroit but found that mission to be challenging.
“It was hard finding certain locations that would allow us to film with our particular story, mostly because of religious views and or simply not being interested,” she said. “I remember going to over 10 liquor stores all over the city one day and was ultimately denied, ignored or even sometimes rudely dismissed by the cashiers. Fortunately, we only had to shoot one scene outside of Detroit.”For one scene, Simone took to social media and invited the community to come out and be a part of filming.
“That was a long shoot but it went really cute,” said Simone. “Everyone there looked good and took direction well. It was one of my favorite shoot days honestly. We took vogue breaks and cackled throughout the night. We have tons of cute bloopers.”
While the Detroit Narrative Agency initially only sponsored one episode, Simone said there will be additional episodes, each lasting approximately 10 to 15 minutes.
“We just shot the pilot episode so far,” she said. “However I know I want to complete a season so we’ll possibly do about eight or so episodes total.”
Simone hopes to premiers the series this summer on its website, fqchronicles.com.
“I didn’t realize that this project was the spiritual process that I didn’t know I needed in a time where felt so lost and unsure,” said Simone. “I’m honestly surprised that I’m even doing film. I have to say thanks to Detroit Narrative Agency giving us the opportunity, I got the chance to try something new and I just went for it. I low-key was surprised at how this film took so much time and planning for just one episode. I am not the schedule type of girl by any stretch but luckily I had a great team who got me together. It was all a great learning experience.”