Meet Hope Bryant, the Houston native who is among 10 young visionaries chosen for the McDonald’s 2023 Black and Positively Golden Change Leaders program.
This year, McDonald’s joined forces with multitalented, award-winning actress, singer and entertainer Keke Palmer to spotlight Black movers and shakers nationwide who are making positive changes in their communities and beyond.
Each honoree will receive $20,000, totaling $200,000 awarded to the group collectively, to amplify their career endeavors and community projects.
Bryant, an alumna of Seven Lakes High School in Katy, is currently a sophomore at Howard University studying TV and Film. Bryant’s passion for filmmaking and telling “lesser-told stories that highlight the complexities of the Black female experience and destigmatize racial stereotypes within the film industry” made her the perfect honoree for this program.
The Change Leaders were featured in a national advertising campaign with Palmer, who was excited to pay homage to the leaders who are “shaping history for the next generation.”
The Defender spoke one-on-one with Bryant to learn about her work as a filmmaker and what it means to be chosen as a 2023 McDonald Change Leader.
Defender: When did you discover your love for filmmaking?
Bryant: I found my passion for filmmaking when I was around seven years old. I didn’t know it was filmmaking at the time. I loved creating videos. I didn’t know how to edit or anything. As I got older. I started exploring social media and YouTube and realized that a whole production goes into it. I started finding love for editing. I started figuring out that I didn’t want to do social media anymore; I wanted to pursue something larger. I love watching movies with my family. I started writing and getting crews together and making little videos. I decided to go to school and follow my dreams.
Defender: What are some exciting film projects you’ve created?
Bryant: My favorite thing that I’ve made was a 2020 PSA (Public Service Announcement) regarding Black Lives Matter. It reached over 60,000 people, and I loved creating it because I’m showcasing what is happening. During the 2020 protests, there was a lot of bad media coverage, and I wanted to depict what was going on, like the peaceful protests. Many people thanked me for showing a different perspective and elevating their voices.
Defender: Is filmmaking your main focus at Howard?
Bryant: I’m taking production courses, learning to direct camera operations, edit and everything. I love to dabble in screenwriting and learn as much as possible because I aim to have a production company. To be a leader, you must know all industry aspects.
Defender: What does being a McDonald’s Golden Change Leader mean to you?
Bryant: It is an honor to be connected with all the other change leaders. It’s inspiring and reassuring because I’ve been doing film for a long time. I loved connecting with [the other honorees]. Everyone was so sweet, and I was inspired to hear about their passions. It was a great experience.
Defender: What was it like to be on set with Keke Palmer?
Bryant: Filming the commercial was a cool experience because I’ve never been in a professional production before. Everything I’ve done has been something I’ve put together with some friends or people who have the same passions as me. I got to connect with producers, directors and camera operators, and I was trying to talk to everyone because they were doing what I wanted to be doing. So, I was making sure to speak with them, hear about their [stories] and how they got to where they were doing film. Meeting Keke Palmer was out of this world. It was cool getting to know her, and I spoke to her about her experiences in the entertainment industry and how Black women can elevate it.
Defender: What plans do you have with the funding you’ve received?
Bryant: I’ll use the funds to jumpstart some projects coming out very soon. The grant will contribute to my success while I follow my passion for film. My biggest advice is to follow your dreams no matter what. Just keep going because you never know what’s coming next.