—It is Black History Month, and every day this month, The Message will be sharing short profiles of Black professionals from across the industry: marketing, advertising, PR, media and production. Written by POCAM members, the profiles are a way to “fight invisibility,” an exercise in representation for an industry where representation must get better—
Recognizable by his long locks of hair and humble confidence, Alfredo Films partner/executive producer Alexander Henry describes his breakthrough as a journey that came with some early challenges.
As an unknown commodity, juggling part-time work and striving to establish a reputation, Henry and his team struggled to be taken seriously. “Originally… we hired someone who acted as our face to help battle the stereotypes that come with being a young Black executive producer,” he said. Working closely with producer Sharon-Nelson Bailey, they were eventually able to build the right team and a process that is paying off today.
In his fifth year, Henry has already earned the opportunity to work on outstanding, award-winning creative projects across North America. His timely top pick among his work is “A Hymn away from Home,” Black & Abroad’s promo film for its data-driven domestic travel platform, Black Elevation Map.
The film saw Henry and his team cover 30 businesses across America. “We all hopped in a van and travelled from state to state, city to city, to tell the stories of so many incredible Black-owned businesses and historical landmarks that need to be known to the world,” he said
“We…us… team come up often in conversation with Henry, who says his mentors come from a surrounding community that he can lean on.
“We worked with our incredible director [Kelly Fyffe], who, after getting a shout out from Ava DuVernay for being next up as being one of Canada’s next female leading Black directors, took time out of her schedule to bring so much love and care to this project.”
The fact that the Black Elevation Map won so many awards was an added bonus. “One of our proudest moments is the Alfredo, Performance Art, and Black and Abroad team all on stage at Cannes getting gold,” he said. “Huge moment!”
Alfredo Films and Fela are the only Black-owned production companies registered within the ACCP, further highlighting the lack of Black representation behind creative projects in our industry. Henry sees any project that gives back to communities’ economy as a potential area of interest. “When Performance Art approached us to be a part of this project, we said yes immediately,” he said. “These are the kind of projects we’ll always stand behind at Alfredo.”
Although Henry hopes his presence will lead to more Black business ownership and executive producer roles within the production community, he said he needs to play a role in making that goal become reality.
“There’s more that I need to do than just being present,” he said. “Growing up I never had a guest speaker who was Black come into any of my schools to speak about film. I believe it starts from an early age to teach young people how great a career in filmmaking and advertising is.”
Kobe Bryant supplies his mantra: “Job’s not finished.”
This profile was written by POCAM steering committee member Justin Senior. Senior is the owner of Justin Senior Consulting Services.