In 2004, 402 hopeful applicants sought cash from the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities for various projects. Sometimes they got what they wanted.
Name: Bernadine Okoro
Grant Applied For: Young Emerging Artist Program; city offers up to $2,500 for support of “innovative art projects.”
Money Needed To: produce The Price of Freedom, a “narrative that deals with the issue of human trafficking and teenage prostitution.”
Purpose in Life, According to Application: “To Awaken Destiny”
Background: Okoro says in her application that she began in community theater in 1998 as a sound technician. Since then she’s become more involved in acting, eventually landing a coveted role as an extra in Chris Rock vehicle Head of State. She’s also participated in the University of Southern California’s Summer Production Workshop, where her classes included a William H. Macy– led acting seminar. Okoro has written two stage plays and “a six-minute narrative” called Payback, which addresses the problem of school bullies.
Plan: Having completed Payback, Okoro, calling on herself for inspiration, apparently feels ready to move on to the longer 25-minute form. “In this dramatic piece,” she writes in her application, “I want to capture a hero’s journey…This piece is symbolic of an artistic journey I have gone through.”
Amount Asked For: $2,500
Upshot: Turned down by the District, Okoro wasn’t about to give up. “We just did it out of our pockets,” she says, though she admits that getting aid from the city would have helped with distribution and film-festival entries. “A year after, I’m still trying to get that stuff done,” she says.