It was no piece of cake for Keena Ferguson, the self-proclaimed multi-artist and creator of the film Lindon Passing, to deliver this baby; the story of a woman who makes the difficult decision to have an abortion. At first poke, the movie might provoke a conversation about pro-choice. But for Keena, Lindon Passing is a testament of understanding, love, and pain.
Lindon Passing premiered in March 2017 at the LA Film School in Hollywood, California with a red carpet, a celebrity guestlist, and a complete Q & A. After the premiere, I sat down with Keena, who is the writer, director, producer, actor, choreographer, voice-over artist (Yes. She is all the same person.) She smiled eagerly and looked like she woke up like “this”. Get it? “I woke up like this.”…uh…Never mind.
Anyway, I dared to ask the question, “How long did it take you to write this?” In the Q & A, one of the attendees had also inquired the same thing. I got the same response, which is that she “hates” that question because there is no clear, definite answer. Maybe I was hoping she would say, “Oh, it only took me a couple of days locked up in my bedroom. I slept on it, woke up, filmed it, and hit the easy button.” Silly me. Those of us in the industry know that magic happens somewhere between having a vision and writing it down. The creative part can sometimes be easy, but for sure, once the last period is placed, that is when the hard work really starts.
Keena explained that her inspiration for the movie came during the performances of her one-woman show Keena Unbranded. Keena takes on the character of baby Kylie, an unborn embryo. As one of many characters in this artistic perspective, Kylie is able to explain that she was not aborted but was “given back to God”. Keena’s realistic portrayal of Kylie pushes and pulls you in and out of reality to the point where you start to ask yourself, “Could this be real?” Then Keena transitions out of that character as seamlessly as she fell in, leaving you wondering, “Was that real?” Nevertheless, the rush of emotions you get from seeing her execute her craft is nothing but REAL. It is impossible to not feel one way or another about the story. The emotional responses from individuals in the audience inspired Keena to turn the play into a movie.
Lindon Passing starts in an abortion clinic on a gynecological chair. The female doctor tenderly asks Lyn, played by Keena, if she is sure she wants to go through with the procedure. The volatility and intimacy of the shot make you squeeze and want to whisper to the screen, “Wait. Don’t do it.” But before your words can form, Lyn says, “Yes.” It seems a little ironic, whether intentional or not, that the male nurse, played by Dwain A. Perry, comforts her by saying, “ I will hold your hand.” The audience and I collectively prepared ourselves for an emotional ride when suddenly the frame switched to Lyn crying tears of joy and proudly holding a baby boy named Lindon. Unknowingly, I had sat next to the editor, Christopher Alexander, who probably thought I was a weirdo because of my oohs, aahs, and other undertone self-conversations I had about the technical aspect of the film. Thanks to his mastery of editing, the story fluidly flowed through the next 18 years of Lindon’s life, with Lyn by his side every step of the way. Lyn’s reason for wanting an abortion was purposely not explained because Keena wanted the audience to focus on the relationship between the mother and son. And just as planned, we were whisked into Lyn’s story of raising a boy who typically wants to hang out with his friends after school, grows into a teenager and drives the car with the music at full volume, and finally graduates, heading to college with a packed SUV. You easily get settled into the idea of this loving, nurturing, successful mother-son union, when Keena throws a curve ball. As if it was the 9th inning, bases loaded, tied score, and the last pitch of the game, Keena yanks the rug from under you, just to make sure you left all of your misconceptions on the red carpet of what Lindon Passing is about.
Speaking of the red carpet, Keena is no stranger to it. Keena Unbranded was nominated in the NAACP Theatre awards in 2016 for Best Director, Best Lighting, Best Playwright, Best Sound, and Best One Person Show. Lindon Passing premiered in front of an elite local and celebrity audience, including actor, writer, and director Ted Lange. The audience was resilient despite the sensitive, and often polarizing, topic of a woman’s rights to choose. I could swear I saw a giant pink elephant floating in the middle of the room when the tension finally broke and two gentlemen on opposite sides of the theater decided to have a mini word-to-word showdown with Keena in the middle. That’s just like a man for ya to fight over a woman. Still, in the end it was clear that this was a story that people of all races, genders, religions, and political backgrounds could take a combined emotional “first breath”.
Keena Ferguson realizes that her creative interpretation is in no way a full representation of women (or men, for that matter). Keena believes that all women should have the ability to make a “choice” and not be judged. Keena would like for this movie to expand conversation beyond linear thinking, create dialogue with organizations that support family planning, and encourage people to see each other from different perspectives in a safe space.
Keena is grateful to her production team and all the actors in the film. Co-Star, Michael Felix, commented, “My parents were 15. Filming [this] did something to me. It made me think about how I came into the world.” Lindon Passing also stars, McCarrie McCausland, Marta Cross, Tyler Michael Brown, Tammi Mac, Anthony Naylor Jr., and Theo Wilson.
Keena is proud of her other projects including a docu-series From The Fly which she produced with her husband, Ajamu Frasier. Keena can be contacted on Twitter @Keenastar, on Instagram @Keenastar13, and on Facebook as Keenastar. And if you still want to know more about Keena, her work is all over the Internet, as well as, her IMDB which spans across 16 years of work. Keena Ferguson is the Oprah, the Viola, and the Ava, in her own right. We look forward to seeing more from her.
Photo Credit: Karim Saafir Photography
By Julio Hanson