Former MTV VJ, seasoned comedian, and of course, actress, Amanda Seales was in Chicago for a laugh-packed night in January. We all adored her spunky and fashionable character Tiffany DuBois on Insecure, and truthfully, I believe she should have gotten more screen time, perhaps an entire episode or two dedicated to her character’s challenging transition into motherhood, but alas.
Beyond a multi-faceted performer, she is also a passionate activist. An activist who brings comedy into politics, because, let’s face it, it’s a dark world, politics is frustrating and complicated, and if you can instill some lightness into that area, then you’re doing something right.
She recently produced and starred in her own independent documentary, In Amanda, We Trust, via her company, Smart Funny and Black Productions. The film was shown at The Den, an incredibly approachable comedy venue in Chicago. Not only did she show her documentary and engage the crowd with some government and politics 101 based trivia, but she also facilitated a Q&A after the viewing. She was joined onstage by esteemed Chicago activist Damon A. Williams. Damon is a local movement builder, organizer, hip-hop performing artist, educator, media maker, Cohost of AirGo Radio and Co-Director of the #LetUsBreathe Collective. This was a night out to remember, which had an especially impressive turnout considering the frigid temps of Chicago in January.
In Amanda, We Trust offers a refreshing blend of comedy and political commentary, showcasing Seales’ ability to approach complex issues with realism, curiosity, and delight. From the start of the film, Amanda seeks to understand what a career in public service entails. Throughout, she dives deep and gains a more thorough understanding, which most of us could benefit from. Through eye opening interviews with Representative Jamaal Bowman and Representative Ilhan Omar, who provide realistic details about a day in the life, Amanda brings us on her quest to understand and demystify the responsibilities of a career in public service.
After the sit down, she takes to the community and approaches DC residents, quizzing them on pop culture and civics. Asking participants to list how many members there were in Destiny’s Child (answer: it depends on what era of the group), then shifting to ask what the process of passing a bill is. The stark contrast between how immediate most were able to answer the pop culture based questions versus civics, was telling. This just goes to show, most of these lessons, if we’re lucky, are taught to us via mandatory memorization in middle school, and as adults, we’re rarely made to revisit these facts. Even more rarely are we made to reflect on their impact on our lives, let alone encouraged to participate in democracy.
Location wise, these “man on the street” style interviews were strategically done between the National African American Museum of History and Culture and the Washington Monument, which made for a fitting backdrop.
Throughout the documentary, Amanda playfully asks people in politics and on the street if she should enter politics or run for office, to which they all resoundingly say yes, and that they’d vote for her. Ultimately, she decides that her current platform is what suits her best, and that she’s happy and called to encourage others to get into politics. This documentary is a welcome expose as to what that might look like and was engaging to watch.
A special shout out is much deserved to those in the audience who are putting in work and making change in our local community: people from the Let Us Breathe Collective, Healthy Hood, and the Chicago Torture Justice Center.
In Amanda, We Trust was shown on Friday, January 19, 2024, at 7:15, at The Den Theatre, 1331 North Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago.
Visit Amanda’s Patreon to support her ongoing work, and check out her podcast, Small Doses.