Chloe x Halle are championing emerging filmmakers through Neutrogena Studios’ First Frame Program, which released two short films — “En Avant” and “If My Voice Rang Louder Than My Skin” — on Thursday.
Both films, produced in partnership with the nonprofit Ghetto Film School, address the First Frame Program’s mission of spotlighting experiences surrounding skin health and what it means to embrace your skin. Chloe and Halle Bailey, who are also Neutrogena brand ambassadors, helped curate the program and mentored the filmmakers as they developed their shorts.
The R&B duo underlined the importance of amplifying work from young, Black creatives — and shared their joys of working with “En Avant” writer/director Sarah Jean Williams and “If My Voice Rang Louder Than My Skin” writer/director Kyra Peters.
“Chloe and I were just grateful to be a part of this conversation,” Halle tells Variety. “It’s really important for young Black women to feel like they have a platform to express their creative ideas, their voices and their opinions about their experience living in their skin. So we were really honored to be a part of this and to comment on [the filmmakers’] amazing creativity.”
“I’m so proud of these young ladies,” adds Chloe. “And Ghetto Film School always has such incredible talent.”
“En Avant” follows Ragan (Toi-ya Leatherwood), a Black ballerina who faces racism in a white-dominated art form. The film underlines Ragan’s struggle with self-acceptance as she tries to find her place in the ballet world — where, for example, “a lot of Black dancers are asked to wear a lighter foundation to look more uniform with the rest of the company,” noted Williams, a student at NYU Tisch School of the Arts and Ghetto Film School alumni, in a behind-the-scenes interview by Neutrogena Studios.
“The ballerina story truly struck a chord,” says Chloe. “When I was younger, I was heavily into dance. And I was so fortunate, growing up in Atlanta, to be around other young ballerinas who were Black as well — but I remember going to audition for certain theater programs and … I realized not everyone truly looked like me. … That story resonated so much with me because it was about a ballerina trying to fit into what she thinks society only accepts — but all she really has to do is be herself.”
“If My Voice Rang Louder Than My Skin” is a 2D animation film that presents an allegorical story of a teenage boy who dreams of a life where his skin no longer solely impacts how others perceive him and how he moves through the world. The film is also dedicated to “those whose lives were tragically ended before their voices could ring louder than their skin” — including Tamir Rice, Breonna Taylor and Ma’Khia Bryant.
“This story means so much to me… I’ve lived that narrative all of my life,” said Peters, who is currently a script coordinator at Moonbug Entertainment and also a Ghetto Film School alum, in a behind the scenes interview. “What if we could break past that first impression?”
“It was really touching, because both films in a way describe how you can be free — and find the beauty and power in what it is to be in your skin,” says Halle, who also shared words of encouragement for young creatives today. “Never let anybody tell you that you can’t tell your stories — because they’re so powerful and they will resonate with more people than you think… You are valuable and your story is valuable.”
Both “En Avant” and “If My Voice Rang Louder Than My Skin” are now available on Neutrogena’s YouTube Channel. Watch the trailer below.