Arts, Culture & Entertainment

Honesty Hour spotlights USC entrepreneurs of color

The group, comprised of many USC alumni, creates documentaries about various entrepreneurs of color.

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Sherman and Sundaresan both graduated from USC in 2020, founding Honesty Hour together soon after. The two spoke of the ways they wanted to spotlight entrepreneurs from various backgrounds since their freshman year but were finally able to do so through their organization, Honesty Hour.

Their documentary, “Nile Hair,” showcases the business of a fellow 2020 USC alumnus, Shamillah Iga. The ten-minute documentary follows Iga around her hometown of Houston, Texas, telling the story of why she was inspired to found a company that specializes in curly hair for Black men.

“When you’re thinking about business, I feel like there’s a lot of the American point of view of businesses like, ‘I’m the next Mark Zuckerberg and I’m taking the world by storm,’” Iga said. “I think there was like something really nice about like, how intimate and personal this like spotlight felt.” She feels the documentary gives consumers a better idea of why she founded her business and the ways it hits so close to home, which, in turn, helps customers and investors alike to understand her and her business.

“I found that, even if I just show a short clip of the documentary, they finally get the importance or like how big Black hair care is,” Iga said.

“We’re really trying to highlight and spotlight voices that previously have been unheard,” Connor Ling, a USC alumnus and the video and media producer for Honesty Hour said. “It’s a breakdown a lot of the barriers that differences on the surface can cause and we’re trying to foster [a] cultural, racial, gender understanding that would allow people to have honest and open conversations and foster the kind of diverse environments that I think we’re all looking for in the workplace or our social lives or just in the way that we go throughout the world day to day.”

Documentary storytelling, Sherman said, gives viewers a deeper narrative to immerse themselves in compared to much of the shorter form video content taking social media by storm. Ling worked with 60 Second Docs previously, realizing that, despite being able to create short documentaries, some stories can benefit from the added depth of a longer runtime.

As for the future of the group, Ling said there is already a network of collaborators eager to get involved. The organization also is open to consulting with existing media companies or individuals hoping to tell their own stories. Another documentary the group produced, “Color the Water,” spotlights a Los Angeles surf company and will release later this summer. They will also begin filming another new project in Columbia this January.

“Everything we do is focused on joy,” Sherman said. “The most progressive thing we can do is to put people we don’t get to see winning all the time on screen, on record, in a way that is told from their authentic perspective and not trying to strip trauma porn out of people for money.”

Correction: This article incorrectly stated that Honesty Hour is currently filming two projects in Columbia. The group will begin filming one project in Columbia beginning January 2023. Annenberg Media regrets this error.