In black-and-white, an African-American military man ushers his colleagues into a room. Emeli Sandé waits against the wall. The military men clap for her as she led into the room. The man behind plucks his flower. The man across from her hands a piece of paper and a pen.
She puts her hand out, saying no. The men exchange curious glances. A younger man paces underneath the wall with its stenciled message: “anywhere in the world and the solar system.”
A fortysomething African-American man places her hand on her shoulder and pushes her to the chair. He implores to her reconsider, as written on the screen and then consults with his superior, a wrinkled old man. The older man points to her. Written on the screen, he says “you have a great talent.” The other men chime in with that she will be a success but that they can’t do anything unless she allows it.
She answers, the note card reading: “you mean my surrender.” The men whisper to one another. A gangly fiftysomething man counters it with “you mean your cooperation.” A heavyset man munches on his sandwich, asking: “why do you hesitate?” She responds with: “because my heart tells me to.” The heavyset man bursts into laughter.
She says she wants to be herself and have creative freedom. The gangly man chides her, stating she’s nothing, from the gutter. The balding thirtysomething man demands that they make a decision regarding her career. They all raise their hands, voting nay. The heavyset man makes the slit throat gesture with his finger.
The African-African waves his finger in her face, telling her that “success is impatient, your audience is waiting.” He hands her the pen and paper again. She takes the pen and holds it in her lap. The two men escort her out the building.
Emeli Sandé had been courted by several authoritative businessmen after they heard her perform at a showcase. The one gangly man touched her waist as he complimented her singing. She mumbled a “thank you,” flustered by his subtle advance. They discussed a meeting time and agreed it would be at a conference room at their business.
She arrived on time, wearing a professional outfit. A man greeted her and told her she needed to wait at least another half hour. She stood against the wall, her hands shaking as she waited. She considered leaving but didn’t want to have a reputation as difficult. An hour and a half later, two men directed her towards the meeting.
The men indicated they would be doing her a favor by signing their draconian contract. A racist man said she wasn’t going to amount to anything, considering she came from a desolated city. She wasting the opportunity of a lifetime and their precious time. They could’ve scheduled a meeting with another pretty girl who actually wants to be a star.
Her lawyer said the contract gave the men permission to take a majority of the royalties. Her involvement would be limited, requiring at least 90% of their in-house songwriting team to have input. They would have final say on any photo shoots and endorsements.
Standing up to them meant any mainstream career was over. However, she left the meeting, her head held high, knowing she didn’t allow them to pressure her into a life that would break her. She’ll continue performing at the local venues and creating a following on her own, determined by her terms.
Director: N/A Year: 2013
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