“At Risk Youth” is a Public Service Announcement for the Black Lives Matter movement, produced by actress/activist/music artist Kat Graham and directed by Darren Genet. The concept was the brainchild of J. Walter Thompson’s Creative Director Vann Graves.
Graves initially shared his passion project with Graham when they met on an airplane to Atlanta. Graves explained that he was inspired to write the concept in 2014 when his wife was pregnant with their first child. In the days before the birth of Graves son’, both Laquan McDonald and 12 year old Tamir Rice were killed by police officers. His frustrations and concern for his son’s future sparked this idea to use his creative platform to raise awareness for the Black Lives Matter movement. Graham, a prolific activist in her own right, shared her mutual concern with the continuous profiling, mistreatment, and corruption currently happening across the country. Her immediate reaction to Vann’s concept was ‘we’re making this.’
Genet, Graham and Graves then worked together to produce this narrative PSA that speaks to these ongoing issues in an emotionally powerful context, capturing real people (such as legendary civil rights activist Reverend Warnock), to portray the devastating impact that can result when seemingly innocent choices collide with impulsive, racially-charged reactionary violence.
The result of this collaboration addresses in a very personal and compelling way the issues of fear and frustration and the toll it takes on both the black community and the institution of policing in America.