PARIAH began life as a feature-length script that was made into a short film. Unwilling to let that be the end of her project, writer/director Dee Rees kept working until the funding came through so that she could make her film her way. When I spoke to her on October 11, 2011, the conversation covered that before moving on to the remarkable poetry the lead character, Alika, writes, the radical departure co-star Kim Wayans took in playing a dramatic role, and what film can do that digital just can’t.
PARIAH is her feature film debut, follows Alika, a 17-year-old at odds with her family, but not her heart, about her sexual orientation. A lesbian looking for her first girlfriend and a way to break the news to parents that already know, but won’t admit it. She turns to her AP English teacher to get in touch with her feelings through her poetry, to her friend, Laura, an out lesbian for mentoring, and to Bina, the classmate that her mother thinks is more suitable than Laura as a friend, for a new way to see the world. The film stars Adapero Oduye at Alika, Pernell Walker as Laura, Aasha Davis as Bina, Charles Parnell as Alika’s father and Kim Wayans as her mother.