Los Angeles is the home of one of the most celebrated leaders of our time – the Honorable Diane E. Watson – and now her story is on the big screen and slated for a Southern California premiere on Sunday, June 11, at 4 p.m., at the Marina del Rey Film Festival.
The festival will be held at the Cinemax 18 and XD Theaters at the Howard Hughes Center, 6081 Center Drive in Los Angeles.
Filmmaker Millena Gay directed and her company, HoneyPeach Productions, produced “Golden Hearted: The Legacy of Ambassador Diane E. Watson.” Acclaimed screenwriter Frank Underwood, Jr., wrote the screenplay and co-executive produced in association with Concerned Citizens of South-Central Los Angeles, a nonprofit organization.
“‘Golden Hearted’ is about acknowledging the accomplishments and appreciating the personal and professional sacrifices that Diane made for the advancement of global humanity,” said 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” premiered at the Honolulu African American Film Festival in February with a showing at the Las Vegas Black Film Festival in April. The documentary received a nomination for Best Feature Length Documentary in the 2023 SoCAL Fest Award running from June 22-25, in San Diego.
“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 include the decades after the end of the Civil War. This era saw 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 1940s and 1950s, Watson was directly impacted by this events 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 Watson.
The documentary chronicles the career of Watson, the second African American woman elected to the L.A. County School Board in 1975 and the first African American woman in the California State Senate. She went on to become the U.S. Congresswoman for California’s 33rd congressional district, serving for 12 years before retiring to take care of her ailing mother.
Although Watson 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, noted Gay.
“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, a native of Ohio, but 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, an executive producer of the film and executive director for Concerned Citizens of South Central of Los Angeles.
“We had a few interns who received an intense education through shadowing production professionals at some of the location shoots,” she added.
Watson had extraordinary working-class parents who valued education. She earned her Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Ph.D. degrees in educational administration. She later attended the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Watson built her legacy by devoting her life to public service and becoming an influential and powerful leader within the highest levels of American politics.
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.