The Los Angeles Rams honored an important milestone in their history by releasing the short film “Kingfish: The Story of Kenny Washington.” Washington became the first Black player to be signed with an NFL team in the modern era when he joined the Rams on March 21, 1946.
The short film was created by Black-owned creative marketing agency The BLK Originals and video production company Loyd Visuals. The film featured interviews with Hall of Famers Isaac Bruce and Marshall Faulk along with Rams coaches and front office employees.
“Being able to work specifically with the L.A. Rams to tell such an important story, and untold story about the first Black players to be integrated into the league in 1946 meant a lot to us,” said Loyd Visuals executive producer and co-founder CEO Khaleel Loyd. “We take pride in being able to tell stories … and being a part of the community, not just outsiders looking to tell a story from the outside in.”
Washington’s daughter, Karin Washington-Cohen, granddaughter Kysa Washington and grandson Kraig Washington were featured on the short film to describe his triumphs and trials.
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The documentary also touched on how historic L.A. Sentinel and L.A. Tribune journalist Halley Harding led a group of Black journalists in pressuring the Rams into signing him.
The Hilltop Coffee + Kitchen in Inglewood was the backdrop for a scripted scene that featured Inglewood native D Smoke and Watts Rams players Noah Williams and Daryl Jamerson. SoFi Stadium was another venue seen in the short film.
BLK Originals co-founders Sam Hoggs and Jasmine Alston pitched their vision of the documentary. Hoggs researched Washington by reading, listening to podcasts, and searching the internet. He called Washington a “renaissance man,” learning from him the importance of not giving up on your passions.
“Standing on the shoulders of the giants before us has always kept me humble,” Hoggs said. “Seeing [Washington] not be able to play the sport he loves originally at the highest level, but then be able to play for the Hollywood Bears but then also go into the community as a police officer to work in Hollywood as an actor it’s just like evolve, change, grow. Don’t be afraid of change.”
When Washington signed with the Rams, he requested that his longtime teammate Woody Strode be signed as well. This fact resonated with Loyd; his brothers also help him run Loyd Visuals.
“That tells us that [Washington] not only was forward thinking but he was also someone who lifted as he climbed,” Loyd said. “To be able to work with my two younger brothers, to be able to employ a team of 20-plus people, I take the concept of lifting as we climb very serious.”
To watch “Kingfish: The Story of Kenny Washington,” visit https://www.therams.com/community/black-history-month.