NYC teens shed light on mentoring programs in Harlem at White House

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HARLEM, Manhattan (PIX11)-- At the 2nd Annual White House Film Fest, nine young filmmakers from Harlem had their work featured and they were declared “future motivators.”

“It may also be the only film festival where one of the entrants has his tooth loose,” said President Obama at the Festival’s open on Friday.

15 entries were chosen by the White House among filmmakers as young as six-years-old. Participants had to be a  student in grades K-12 to enter and  the overlying theme of the contest was giving back.

The entrants from Harlem featured mentorship in the community in their film. One of the mentors they interviewed for the short piece was Reverend James Singletary of Riverside Baptist Church in Morningside Heights.

“I had no experience working with kids but the one thing I did have was the ability to love people unconditionally,” said Rev. Singletary in the film.

The teens behind the film say Rev. Singleton guided them through their ups, and their downs.

“He calls me lazy,” said filmmaker Jared Colazzo, “I agree I am very lazy. But if it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be in this film. Every Thursday he kept texting calling saying, hey we have an interview to do, and it just made me realize I can do way better than what I’m doing now.”

The project for these young filmmakers, was not about becoming the next big producer or director. But instead seeing something through to the end.

“There were times and struggles that we went through, and times where we second guessed coming back to the video,” said filmmaker Ojani Johnson.

But with the support of Rev. Singletary, they kept at it, all the way to the White House.

“A lot of young people they don’t have that type of guidance that we have so its nice to share our experience about it and maybe it could help in the future for other young people to get that mentorship that we have,” said filmmaker Max Nunez.

In the film, Rev. Singletary goes on to say: “All the kids want to know is that you love them. And when they get a sense that you love them and that you care about them, you can lead them from here to Kalamazoo.”

And he did. All the way to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.