By Marie Y. Lemelle, MBA
Los Angeles is the home of one of the most celebrated leaders of our time: the Honorable Diane E. Watson. Filmmaker Millena Gay directed and her company HoneyPeach Productions produced Golden Hearted: The Legacy of Ambassador Diane E. Watson which is written by critically acclaimed screenwriter, Frank Underwood, Jr. and co-executive produced in association with Concerned Citizens of South Central Los Angeles, a nonprofit organization.
Award-winning Producer, Director, and Actress Millena Gay, raised in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, has added documentarian to her repertoire with "Golden Hearted: The Legacy of Ambassador Diane E. Watson."
Photo courtesy of HoneyPeach Productions.
Gay along with the cast and crew will be attending the Southern California premiere at the Marina del Rey Film Festival at the Cinemark 18 and XD, 6081 Center Dr., Los Angeles, CA 90045 on June 11, 2023 at 4 p.m. For details, go to www.marinadelreyfilmfestival.com/.
Golden Hearted previously was invited to screen at the Honolulu African American Film Festival in February 2023, with a showing at the Las Vegas Black Film Festival in April 2023.
"Following the premiere in Marina del Rey, I am happy to announce that my documentary received a nomination for Best Feature Length Documentary in the 2023 SoCAL Fest Award running from June 22-25, 2023 in San Diego," said Gay.
"Golden Hearted is about acknowledging the accomplishments and appreciating the personal and professional sacrifices that Diane made for the advancement of global humanity," said Millena Gay. "It's a humbling experience as a first-time documentarian to be so well received by film festivals in and out of the state of California."
Golden Hearted: The Legacy of Ambassador Diane E. Watson, a documentary about one of America's most admired and internationally recognized humanitarians is directed by Millena Gay. Poster: HoneyPeach Productions.
"My one-hour and 20-minute documentary, narrated by Award-Winning Actor Danny Glover with reflections from Actress Kathleen Bradley-Redd, Actor Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, and others, will continue to tour the film festival circuit," said Gay. "Working with Mr. Glover would be any filmmaker's dream. His narration was the golden touch for my project."
Some of the historic moments depicted in the documentary included the decades after the end of the Civil War. This era would launch a wave of lynching, imprisonment, and Jim Crow laws taking root. What followed was the disproportionate impact of mass incarceration, discriminatory housing policies, substandard healthcare practices and an overall lack of economic investment. Growing up in the 40s and 50s, Watson was directly impacted by this and was determined to make a change.
"It is our duty to watch over the actions and activities of this government and to insist that, in words as well as in deeds, the interests of our constituency primarily and of the Nation ultimately are served," said Honorable Ambassador to the Federated States of Micronesia Diane Edith Watson, Member of the United States House of Representatives, Retired.
The documentary chronicles the career of lifetime Los Angeles resident Diane E. Watson, the first African American woman in the California State Senate. Watson went on to become the United States Congresswoman for California’s 33rd congressional district, serving for 12 years before retiring to take care of her ailing mother. Although Diane sacrificed marrying the love of her life, she made life better for all Californians with the legislation she penned and fought to get passed, winning wars, breaking barriers, and blazing a trail so that current and future generations could have a better life going forward.
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"I am super excited and honored that R&B star Howard Hewett is the music supervisor for my documentary about Ms. Watson," said Gay. "We have known each other for years and always wanted to do a project together and this was the perfect time."
"This is a story that needs to be told, especially to understand the struggle of a Black woman in politics," said Hewett who is a native of Ohio but has been a long-time resident of Los Angeles. "The world needs to know the importance of telling our stories." Hewett is known for his vocals and as the lead for Shalimar. He tours solo and continues to record music.
"Since 1998, I have been introducing young people of color to the jobs behind the camera in the film industry," said Noreen McClendon, who signed on as one of the executive producers of the film, is the Executive Director for Concerned Citizens of South Central of Los Angeles, a nonprofit organization. "We had a few interns who received an intense education through shadowing production professionals at some of the location shoots."
Watson had extraordinary working-class parents who valued education. She earned her Bachelors, Masters, and Ph.D. degrees in educational administration. She later attended the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. First elected to the L.A. County School Board, from there she devoted her life to public service and became an influential and powerful leader within the highest levels of American politics.
Gay who has produced several short films, including Fun The Emachee Way, Journey, Dolly Madison, the sizzle for Bitter Inheritance and the multiple award-winning film Clarissa's Gift has completed her first feature film, "Something About Mother." The film stars Jayne Kennedy, Emmy Winner Vincent Irizarry, Lawrence-Hilton Jacobs and Dawnn Lewis.
Marie Y. Lemelle, MBA is a Los Angeles native and founder of Platinum Star PR and Platinum Star Media Group. She can be reached on IG @platinumstarpr.