A kung fu flick inspired Chastity D. Kirven to reach for the brass ring and dream beyond her humble South Dallas roots. All thanks to the 1985 critical bomb and funky classic, "The Last Dragon" — about a black teenager who wants to be the greatest martial artist.
Kirven joined the workforce when she was 14. Over the past 20 years, her resume has included slicing up animal parts at a meat processing factory. Now she works at a data systems firm.
Like the Nike slogan, "The Last Dragon"motivated her to "just do it."
"I didn’t think it was possible for black people to direct movies," Kirven says.
Who said filmmakers needed a budget, a crew or even film? Kirven found the she had an entire movie studio inside her cell phone.
With the built-in video cam and microphone, she made "The Dark Side of the Rainbow: The Price of Inequality," a short documentary about same-sex domestic abuse. The project is still in the festival submission phase, but in the meantime, Kirven’s creative determination has produced another effort. This time, a literary endeavor: "What Goes Around Comes Around" (Outskirts Press), which rolled off the presses on Nov. 6.
Loosely based on Kirven’s experience, the novel follows Kingsley Ross, a troubled kleptomaniac teen who comes to terms with her sexual identity.
Kirven’s timing couldn’t be better — especially when Mormons ask why gays aren’t blaming Prop 8 on African-American voters.
"It’s a good thing that this happened in a way. It was a wake up call, that we are not as far along as we need to be," she says.
Kirven thinks that Prop 8 was a religious thing — that when it comes to the Bible, most African-Americans have a narrow literal perspective.
In one scene in "What Goes Around Comes Around," Kingsley attends a Pride event and sees her preacher with his boyfriend — the same preacher who tells homosexuals that they’ll burn in hell.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 5, 2008.