Written and Directed by Jennifer Holness
Produced by Jennifer Holness
2021 | 101 minutes
Hungry Eyes Media
Original version in English
Subjects of Desire explores the cultural shift in North American beauty standards towards embracing Black female aesthetics and features while exposing the deliberate and often dangerous portrayals of Black women in the media. From society’s new fixation on the ‘booty’, fuller lips, the dramatic rise of spray tanned skin, ethnic hairstyles, and athletic bodies, some argue that Black women are having a beauty moment. But others, primarily Black women, argue that traditional Black features and attributes are seen as more desirable when they are on White women.
Told from the POV of women who aren’t afraid to challenge conventional beauty standards, the film is partially set at the 50th Anniversary of the Miss Black America Pageant, a beauty pageant that was created as a political protest.
Subjects of Desire is a culturally significant, provocative film that deconstructs what we understand about race and the power behind beauty.
Ryann Richardson made history becoming the 50th Anniversary Miss Black America. Before that, the marketing executive-turned-tech founder spent 10 years building consumer brands for companies spanning from early-stage startups (Victor) to billion-dollar “unicorns” (Uber) to the Fortune500 (T-Mobile/Deutsche Telekom). Ryann is the youngest honoree on Savoy Magazine’s list of “Most Influential Black Executives in Corporate America”.
Born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico raised by Haitian-American parents has allowed Alexandra to shape her into the person she is today. With her siblings and herself being first generation American’s in her family, her parents always inspired them to always go above and beyond when it came to anything they put their heart and mind to. Alexandra is currently studying Psychology with a minor in Child Development at the University of New Mexico. While being a student Alexandra always stayed steadfast in pursuing her dreams and being involved within her community.
Seraiah Nicole is a performer, activist & founder of Seraiah Nicole Creations, LLC. Her debut album “The Truth Is” is a combination of poetry, hip-hop, and soulful vocals that speak truth to power. This creative & performing artist delivers vitalizing vocals, powerful poetry & passionate interactive performances; all while organizing & capturing Philadelphia’s Black arts community with Light Open Mic & Serai’s Eyes.
Miss Black America 2017, Miss Delaware 2014, Miss America 2015 contestant. A Ph.D. candidate specializing in African-American, urban, and U.S. 20th century history at George Washington University and professor of ethnic studies at Wilmington University, Brittany is a political commentator and host, appearing on networks ABC and RT News, amongst others.
India.Arie is an American singer/songwriter. She has sold over 3.3 million records in the US and 10 million worldwide. She has won four Grammy Awards from her 23 nominations, including Best R&B Album. With her latest album “Worthy” as always, Arie advises others to love themselves unconditionally and embrace their imperfections.
Jully Black is a true Canadian Icon. Named as one of ‘The 25 Greatest Canadian Singers Ever’, (CBC Music) she has been dubbed ‘Canada’s Queen of R&B Soul’. As a platinum-selling recording artist, her music career has yielded multiple singles reaching the Top 10 pop, R&B, and dance music charts. She has taken home Juno and Gemini Awards, earned innumerable industry accolades, and was hand-selected to sing for the Queen of England. With her powerhouse vocals, hilarious personality, and love of people, Jully Black truly is every woman.
Rachel Anne Dolezal (born November 12, 1977), also known as Nkechi Amare Diallo, is an American former college instructor and activist known for her status as a self proclaimed Black woman but having been born to white parents. She is also a former National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) chapter president. Dolezal was president of the NAACP chapter in Spokane, Washington, from 2014 until June 2015, when she resigned in the midst of controversy over her racial identity.
By day, Amanda Parris is a television and radio host for the CBC and writes a weekly column on Black art and culture. By night, she writes stories for the stage and screen. In 2019, her play Other Side of the Game was awarded the Governor General Literary Award for Drama. In 2018 she joined Johanna Schneller as the co-host of The Filmmakers for a Canadian Screen Award winning second season dedicated to Canadian female filmmakers. In the same year she joined Tom Power as co-host of From the Vaults, a docu-series that used CBC archival footage to revive forgotten stories in music history. In 2020 Amanda launched Black Light, a weekly column for CBC Arts that showcases, explores and critically engages art and popular culture created by Black people.
Dr. Cheryl Thompson
Cheryl Thompson is an assistant professor in the School of Creative Industries at Ryerson University. Her research focuses on histories of Black hair, racial performance, the critical study of media and advertising, and the intersections of gender, class, and power. Her work has appeared in Emergent Feminisms: Challenging a Post-Feminist Media Culture; the Journal of Canadian Studies; Canadian Journal of History/Annales canadiennes d’histoire, Feminist Media Studies; and Fashion Studies. Her books include Beauty in a Box: Detangling the Roots of Canada’s Black Beauty Culture (Wilfrid Laurier Press, 2019) and Uncle: Race, Nostalgia and the Politics of Loyalty (Coach House Books, 2021).
Dr. Carolyn West
Dr. Carolyn M. West is an award-winning international speaker, domestic violence/sexual assault expert, cultural sensitivity trainer, expert witness, and Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Washington. She has written more than 80 publications, including “Mammy, Sapphire, Jezebel, and the Bad Girls of Reality Television: Media Representations of Black women”. With more than three decades of experience, Dr. West is a nationally recognized scholar who investigates the psychological impact of media images on Black women. She is writer/producer of the upcoming documentary “Let Me Tell Ya’ll ‘Bout Black Chicks: Images of Black Women in Pornography,” a searing illustrated multimedia presentation that explores sexualized images of Black women in popular media.
Dr. Heather Widdows
Heather Widdows is a Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Birmingham, UK. Her most recent book is Perfect Me: Beauty as an Ethical Ideal (Princeton University Press, 2018) which has been defined by Vogue as “ground-breaking” and listed by The Atlantic as one of the best books of 2018. She is author of The Connected Self: The Ethics and Governance of the Genetic Individual (2103), Global Ethics: An Introduction (2011), and The Moral Vision of Iris Murdoch (2005). She has co-edited, with Darrel Moellendorf, The Routledge Handbook of Global Ethics (2014). Heather’s Perfect Me book led to her founding the #EverydayLookism campaign, in order to increase public and policymaker understandings that negative comments about other people’s bodies matter.
Garvia Bailey has a career in media spanning close to two-decades as a producer, writer, host and columnist for the CBC and is part of the podcast production team Media Girlfriends. She is a sought after interviewer and moderator, her notable interview subjects include Eddie Glaude Jr (Hot Docs). Claudia Rankine (AGO), Roxane Gay(Toronto Public Library), and the late John Singleton (TIFF). Garvia is a co-founder of jazzcast.ca amplifying the roots of jazz as an African-American-derived artform.
Rayne Sutherland is in her second year at Western University. She is currently studying health sciences and business, which combines her passion for helping people in a real world setting. She is very enthusiastic, energetic, fun and hardworking. Rayne enjoys cooking, reading, listening to music and having fun with her friends and family!
Daeja is entering her first year at The New School. She is studying visual arts and creative writing, and hopes to work in animation or screenwriting. She is passionate about social justice work, especially issues surrounding BIPOC and queer youth. Daejas hobbies include reading novels and manga, watching movies, drawing, and practicing yoga.
Torie Williams is a proud Jamaican-Trini-Grenadian. She is a fourth-year student at McGill University studying economics. During her time at McGill, she has been very involved in the Black Students’ Network and is beyond thankful for the dynamic community it has provided her with. She love music, cooked food, and trying out new hairstyles.
Director, Writer, and Producer
Jennifer brings a fresh, authentic perspective to telling powerful, thought-provoking stories. Jen has worked as a documentary filmmaker for nearly 20 years. She is the Executive Producer of Maya Annik Bedward feature doc, Black Zombie, that is in production with CBC’s Doc Channel. She was recently awarded the CMPA’s Indiescreen Established Producer of the year Award in recognition of her contribution to Canada’s film industry and her incredible career achievements. Jen has directed her first feature documentary, Subjects of Desire, about Black women and beauty that will have its world premiere at SXSW and it will air on TVO and Crave in Canada. Jen who is passionate about Black Canadian History ( and redressing the lack of) is producing her first History Channel Series, BLK: An Origin Story. She will serve as a series showrunner and a director with partner Sudz Sutherland.
Photo Credit: Rafy
Sudz works on both sides of the fence as a freelance writer and director for TV dramas and feature films. Some of his most recent work include Netflix’s Ginny and Georgia, Superman and Lois, and CBC’s For The Record. Sudz’s feature film, Home Again, won the prestigious PAFF‐ BAFTA Festival Choice Award in Los Angeles and was nominated for Best Direction from the Directors Guild of Canada (DGC). Home Again is the follow up to his multiple award winning and Genie nominated debut feature film Love, Sex and Eating the Bones. His Dramatic series ‘Shoot the Messenger,’ with writer/producer Jennifer Holness was aired on the CBC. Sudz is currently developing a comedy series for CFC-Netflix, #relationshipgoals, and will be producing and directing on a powerful new documentary series, BLK: An Origin Story, that he co-created about lost Black History in Canada.
Iris Ng is recognized as a versatile cinematographer, who lends her patience, creativity, intuition, and skill to bring a director’s vision to the screen. For over a decade, Iris has collaborated with award-winning directors Sarah Polley, Min Sook Lee, Fredrik Gertten, Vikram Jayanti, Michelle Latimer, and Martha Burns on a variety of documentaries while shooting a wide variety of films for artists such as Chris Curreri, Oliver Husain, Bambitchell, and Richard Fung. After obtaining her BFA in Film Production from York University, she has honed her craft shooting over sixty projects in many facets of the industry, from narrative, art and documentary films to commercials, music videos and episodic television. In the process, she has had the opportunity to work in Asia, Africa, Europe, and across North America. While her work has been screened in festivals and installations around the world, Iris’ goal continues to be to capture the essence of the moment in the medium, regardless of the size of the project.
Ricardo specializes in feature films, documentaries, lifestyle T.V., commercials and music videos. He is an expert in all formats. Ricardo is known for his talent for lighting and for his quiet and professional demeanour on set; while having fun at the same time. If you know Ricardo, then you know his love of “Juicy Fruit”! His talents have not gone unnoticed; on the contrary, Ricardo has been recognized in the industry and has many awards under his belt. Ricardo is a husband and the proud father of three children, consistently volunteering his time and energy to helping aspiring filmmakers.
Lawrence Jackman is a Toronto-based filmmaker. Over the past fifteen years he has worked as director, editor and consultant on many award-winning documentaries and dramas. He was the director of How Does It Feel (2011) and co-director of A Better Man (2017).
A. “TEDDI JONES” TJERNAGEL
Teddi Jones (A. Tjernagel), is a singer-songwriter and music producer from Vancouver, Canada. Her accredited work extends to Summer Walker (Over It), Buddy (She Think), $NOT (Fall In Love, Revenge, Demanding) and G-Eazy feat. Rick Ross (Lifestyles of the Rich & Hated). Teddi’s sound ranges from mysterious, chopped singing-vocals to the creative use of analog instruments including guitars, pianos and more. She is known for her creations of production-ready instrumental samples.
Tyler is a director, screenwriter and producer based in Toronto, Ontario. During his childhood, to escape the mundanity of the suburbs, he would go to the theatres weekly, which is where he discovered his love for storytelling and filmmaking. Tyler graduated from Sheridan College with a Bachelor’s degree in Film and Television. After graduation, Tyler’s first short film Teething (2019) was accepted into 2019’s Reelworld Film Festival. He wrote, directed, produced and edited the film. He is currently in pre-production of his second short film, I Live Here which he has received funding from Ontario Arts Council, NFB and CBC. Tyler ’s main goal is to create grounded and humanizing films about black people and people of colour. He is currently writing his first feature film and continues to be a student of the craft.
Elise Whittington has 5 years of experience within the film and television industry as well as a diversified background in the arts and general management. She has considerable experience in providing business affairs and project management support for every stage of a project’s life cycle. Elise utilizes her innate sense of creativity in a multitude of ways and specifically in her strategic approach to project development in its early stages. Her expertise lies in the execution of the application process for all levels of funding, from assistance and preparation of all necessary documents to contract management, submission, and long-term management of each project. Elise holds a M.B.A. from the Schulich School of business. Elise Whittington has 5 years of experience within the film and television industry as well as a diversified background in the arts and general management.
About Hungry Eyes Media
Hungry Eyes Media is co-founded by the dynamic creative duo of Jen Holness and Sudz Sutherland. Sutherland and Holness bring a fresh, authentic perspective to telling powerful, thought-provoking stories. In doing so, they have racked up numerous national and international awards and accolades. Hungry Eyes recently expanded its focus to develop content for mobile users as well. As a company with its own distinct mission plan, Hungry Eyes seeks to inspire and entertain!
HUNGRY EYES MEDIA
presents SUBJECTS OF DESIRE,
a film by JENNIFER HOLNESS
Dr. Cheryl Thompson
Dr. Carolyn West
Dr. Heather Widdows
Kaya Joubert Johnson
Written and Directed by
Directors of Photography
A. “Teddi Jones” Tjernagel
Additional Sound Recordist