by Fabliha Anbar
Walking down in a field of sunflowers, a young woman with a black shirt tucked underneath a cherry red flowy dress passes by. In one hand, she holds a camera, and a notebook filled with untold stories laced in nostalgia in the other.
Meet Tara Olayeye. A 22 year old filmmaker and content creator who grew up in the suburbs of Texas. Tara, also known as taraola, uses her storytelling ability and visual art to convey her messages and experiences involving friendships, racism, entering adulthood and Black girlhood. Although the message she’s presenting can be intense and can bring back painful memories, she still provides fun femininity and an nostalgic energy in her short films.
Tara’s short films have captured thousands of hearts, specifically more than 14,000 subscribers on her Youtube channel, and quickly gained attention. In Spring of 2017, she co founded Emory University’s first female production group, FemmeFilms, whose first film Petals won a Jury Award, the Silver Tripod award at Campus Movie Fest 2017 and was even nominated for a National Golden Tripod Award.
With her art, Tara connects to young souls and reassures teens, especially teens of color, that they’re not alone.
Creator and Editor in Chief of Sorjo Magazine, Fabliha Anbar, talked to Tara about how she finds inspiration to create films, the importance of storytelling and how she navigates her space in social media as a young black artist.
FABLIHA ANBAR: When and how did you start having an interest in creating short films?
TARA OLAYEYE: It’s kind of weird because I never really had a huge interest in making films. It’s only become a recent passion. I mean, I’ve always been a fan of movies and music videos and stuff, but I never thought to actually make my own stories until a few of my friends in college kind of forced me to take a narrative film making class with them fall of 2016. I had been making videos on Youtube before taking this class, but I was super intimidated and nervous to start this class because I had no idea what stories I wanted to share and how to make a film. I thought of film making as this thing that had a set of rules and practices, like there was a linear, standard way to make a film. But after I made my first narrative film, I started realizing that film making really can be a personal and artistic journey and I instantly fell in love with it.
FABLIHA: Your short films have a distinct artistic style promoting fun femininity and youth in teenage girls of today. What or who influenced and inspired you to develop your aesthetic?
TARA: Not one thing or person really inspires the artistic style of my short films. I’m really inspired by so much and try to seek inspiration everywhere. I’m really inspired by music that I can dance or slay to, bright colors, nostalgia, and energy.
FABLIHA: The short films you have created explores a wide array of topics that young teens face on a daily basis. Issues from sex, friendships, and even being the token black friend. Why do you think it’s important to emphasize on these topics?
TARA: Emphasizing these topics are important because of how relatable they are. These are real stories that are often silenced or minimized. I feel like it’s so necessary to shine light on these types of conversations and conflicts because seeing yourself/your struggle in film (or media in general) can really be a healing tool and it helps you feel less alone.
Tara created a short film called Token, which explores microaggressions black teens face. She says;
“I made this film to express and reflect on racially charged microaggressions and inner turmoil that I have dealt with growing up and I still deal with (Kemi O is lowkey baby me! surprise!). I hope that this project can work as a voice for all the black kids out there that don’t want to speak up/defend themselves because of the fear of being severely misunderstood and ostracized. Your choices are valid! AND I hope that this project will spark conversations about these issues.”
Watch Token here:
FABLIHA: Each of your videos are completely original and holds their own stories with beautiful visuals as well with an inspiring narrative. Take us through your creative process and your routine of how you think of ideas for short films.
TARA: I don’t really have a process. Honestly each journey to make a short film is so different. I do a lot of brainstorming, just writing down ideas even if they aren’t the best. Hearing a song that I really like [helps makes me] grow super connected [and also] ignites ideas as well. Once I have a solid idea and write up a script I ALWAYS make a moodboard! . This is one of my favorite parts because I love visuals and figuring out the look and feel I want for a film project.
FABLIHA: Who are some other content creators (artists, writers, poets, Youtubers, etc.) that you’ve been interested in lately? Who are you inspired by?
TARA: I’ve been really intrigued by this band called St. Beauty. I haven’t actually listened to their music but there was a clip from one of their music videos that I saw on Instagram that blew my mind.
Content creators and fellow young artists that I’m forever inspired by are; Julia Ling Kelleher, Rian Phin, Glenda Lissette, Mark Aghatise and Mostyle. I’m also incredibly inspired by Issa Rae and Solange.
FABLIHA: You’ve posted a video a while back called ‘Internet Fame and Why It’s Discriminatory/Racist’ exploring the limited options for marginalized groups on social media and explained how popular social media influencers get the attention they receive mainly because they’re white and conventionally attractive. How do you navigate and create visibility for yourself on the internet while also creating a safe space for people of color with your short films?
TARA: I feel like I navigate and create visibility for myself by just being me. By creating what I want to create and doing what I want to do with my art. Being both black and a woman on the internet is a challenge and can be terrifying at times. I’ve experienced the fear and anxiety that comes when people attack you simply because you’re black and a woman demanding space online, but out of love for myself and a desire to share stories that people like me can relate to,
“I’ll continue to raise my voice by
creating what feels right for me.”
FABLIHA: Do you have any advice for young creators who are having difficulty getting through their creative block and are trying to navigate their own style?
TARA: Creative blocks are tough but trying to fight it or resists can make it worst. Just embrace the fact that it’s happening, it’s all a part of process and it will pass.
My advice for finding your own style would be to really tap into yourself as you make your art. It’s so easy to look at other creators (especially online) and feel pressured to make work that’s similar but honestly your greatest power as a creator is your personal perspective. If what you want to make isn’t trendy or super “in” at the moment, that’s fine. Do what feels right for you. If you have no idea what your style even is, I think the best way to find it is to just create. Even if you’re not happy with what you’re making.
“Just create. No one knows what they’re doing or going when they begin! The most important thing is that you’re creating something. You’ll be surprised by how your personal style naturally unfolds and blooms.”
FABLIHA: Lastly, what are your long term goal(s)?
TARA: I’m really just taking life one step at a time so I don’t really have any super long term goals. I just want to continue creating and growing as an artist and filmmaker and see where my work and creative energy takes me.
It’s easy to get lost in the world and feel as though you’re alone. Thanks to Tara and her extraordinary magical art, she’s breaking barriers while constantly connecting to thousands of teen souls with a camera in one hand and a notebook filled with untold stories laced in nostalgia in the other.
Subscribe to her channel here &
follow her on instagram @taraolaa