Racism. Toxic stress. Birth Outcomes.

How are these three things intertwined?

The short film, “Toxic”, developed by our very own Healthy Neighborhoods Committee, seeks to explore that question.

The Beginnings

Led by co-chairs Takasha Nutall and Freddy Collier, the Healthy Neighborhoods Committee began working on the “Toxic” concept nearly 2 years ago. It started when the group made a decision to focus on creating neighborhood-level messaging around infant mortality. After conducting interviews with mothers who had experienced infant loss, the group was inspired to further hone its vision by not only illuminating the issue of infant mortality, but specifically racism’s impact on infant mortality.

And what better way to do so than with a short film?

Over the course of nearly a year, the Healthy Neighborhoods group met monthly, brainstormed, and began developing the scenes that have now become the foundation of the script for “Toxic.”

Key Partners Emerge

The Healthy Neighborhoods Committee had the foundation of a script, as well as a plan for supplementary educational materials. But it was seeking funding and meaningful partnerships to get its project off the ground…

In comes First Year Cleveland’s PAIL (Pregnancy and Infant Loss) Committee. First Year Cleveland’s mission is “to mobilize the community through partnerships and a unified strategy to reduce infant deaths including racial disparities.” Even more, First Year Cleveland’s PAIL Committee already had funding and boots-on-the-ground to tackle a lot of the same issues with which the Healthy Neighborhoods Committee was concerned.

As a result, the Healthy Neighborhoods Committee and PAIL Committee joined forces to launch a short film that would tackle not only the general issue of infant mortality, but particularly the issue of racism as it relates to infant mortality.

The Present

Currently being produced by YOUR STORY ON FILM’s Chris Benninger and directed by STIMULI FILM’s Devon Collins, "Toxic" is officially in production.

The working script depicts the toxic stress faced by one African American woman as she navigates her life (and pregnancy) on a seemingly normal day.

And now, casting has begun!

Casting Call

For the short film “Toxic”
Shooting April 8th - 12th in Cleveland area

Casting Auditions Date: March 9th, 2019

Cuyahoga Community College Metro
Tommy LiPuma Center for Creative Arts
Bullpen Room, 2nd Floor
2809 Woodland Ave.
Cleveland, Ohio 44115-3196
10am - 1pm

Character Breakdowns

Nina - AA, 30s, mother, wife, pregnant, female
Don - AA, 30s, father, husband, male
Michael - AA, middle school aged, dreadlocks, male

Mr. Ector - Caucasian, 50s, male
Karen - Caucasian, middle aged, female
Store Clerk - Open Ethnicity, 25-80, any gender
Doctor - Open Ethnicity, 30-50, any gender
News Anchor - Open Ethnicity, 30-50, any gender

Extra roles:
Teenage AA male
Teenage Caucasian with shoulder length hair
As well other teens, store patrons, and office workers

Interested in auditioning?

These are paid roles. Craft services provided. Please email Casting Director, Jillian Holt, at soshabanky@gmail.com for sides and to schedule an appointment for casting. Please also email headshot and résumé.