Young women often find themselves in situations that can have a lasting effect on their college career and life such as the character Candy did in the film Chi Nu Legacy. The moment when you wake up in a man’s bed that you don’t remember giving sexual consent to can take a toll on a young woman trying to find her way in the world.
Chi Nu Legacy which premiered in Atlanta on March 19, 2017, at Aurora Complex tells the harsh reality of sexual assault on college campuses.
The film comes at a crucial time. Statistics show that campus rape and/or sexual assault has more than doubled to 5,000 cases being reported between 2001 and 2013, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Sexual assault on college campuses is a serious topic. Many media outlets may discuss it, but very few shows or movies depict what someone goes through emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically when they experience such a horrific ordeal in college until now.
However, shows like BET’s “The Quad” and the film Chi Nu Legacy do. Written and directed by Chuck Nathaniel Brown, the film sheds light on a topic that affects the lives of a lot of college students today on and off campus.
Brown is a big news person and had been following campus sexual assault cases for the past few years on campuses such as Stanford, Minnesota, Baylor, and Spelman. Brown along with his executive producer and producer, Marla Lynn Brandon “wanted to do a good job of pulling together a story that would be able to tell several parts of what happens in a situation like this.”
“We wanted to be able to put some things together that would create some dialog,” Brown said. “Hopefully, we did that.”
Chi Nu Legacy is framed around the main character, Candy and her experience with sexual assault while she is trying to pledge a sorority. Relationships are formed, and friendships, sisterhood, and her college life are tested, as she believes the star football player, Mark, played by Curtis Wyatt III, raped her while she was at his frat party after having one too many drinks.
Brown wanted to highlight four significant things in this film to bring awareness to sexual assault on college campuses. Those significant things are that sexual assault on college campuses happen, and it happens at a high rate, what someone goes through when they have experienced it, that some people are accused, and they’re not guilty, and lastly to make sure that someone is held accountable for the crime.
Some of the issues that victims of sexual assault face are self-blame, re-victimization, and feeling helpless. According to CNN, in a new survey conducted by the Association of American Universities (AAU), 23 percent of female college students said they experienced some form of unwanted sexual contact. This ranges from kissing, touching, and then rape carried out by force or threat of force or while they were on alcohol and drugs. Eleven percent said the unwanted contact included oral sex or penetration.
Rainn.Org reports that 11.2% of all students experience rape or sexual assault through physical force. Twenty-three percent of undergraduate females and 5.4 percent of males experience rape or sexual assault through either physical force, violence, or incapacitation.
Despite the high numbers of students who experience sexual assault, college victims often do not report to law enforcement.
- Only 20% of female student victims, age 18-24, report to law enforcement.
- Only 32% of nonstudent females the same age do make a report. – Rainn.Org
Sexual violence often occurs at a higher rate at certain times of the year. More than 50 percent of college sexual assaults occur in either August, September, October, or November. Students are at a higher/increased risk during the first few months of their first and second semesters in college.
With the statistics and facts presented, Brown said it was his responsibility to use his gifts and talents to make a positive impact in the world. As far as the cast, some of them drew from personal experiences of sexual assault while others were fortunate never to have experienced it and tapped into their creative ability to bring Chi Nu Legacy to life.
The cast members of Chi Nu Legacy answered questions about the film in a panel discussion after the premiere.
Cocoa Brown who plays Professor Stewart in the film had a roommate in college that went through something similar to what the main character Candy went through in the movie.
Leah Monet Johnson, who plays Candy in the film, did not have any personal connections to sexual assault, unlike the character she played.
“I thank the Lord that I don’t have any personal connections, anything similar to that. To connect with this character, I had to put myself in a place of fear, of loss, to bring the connection to the sexual assault aspect of it. It was something I had to connect to, and I hope I was successful in conveying that to the audience,” says Johnson.
The other female cast members felt as though this film is important for this generation because it shows sisterhood and women coming together, but addressing something that is very relevant. Many females don’t know how to communicate the assaults so the female cast mates want young women to know that they can be strong, have a voice, and move forward and not allow those things to break them, but make them stronger.
Candy’s mother in the film, Kerri J. Baldwin said that it was nice seeing the big sister support in the movie.
“A lot of times women don’t stick together. Often we see women side with the man, or say that the woman is lying, or so forth and so on. I was really happy to see that switch. Just to see women be empowered and stick together and unite. I appreciate you doing that. Chuck,” says Baldwin.
For the males on college campuses, Wyatt gave his experience of dealing with situations similar with that of the film.
“This is a very sensitive topic in general. I feel like it needs to be discussed more. With me being an ex-athlete, I’ve been in situations where you see stuff start to go south,” says Wyatt.
Wyatt also gave advice on what men should do if they come across a situation where it may turn into sexual assault.
“I know personally, for myself, I’ve just left. Don’t get yourself in that situation and I know that might sound extremely hard to do. If you do see it, there should be action. There should be no question about what your next step is. Stop it. That’s it,” says Wyatt.
Brown considers the project successful “when a victim becomes a survivor; show how men are affected, show how relationships change and show how some are eventually held accountable.” He also hopes that it reaches to people nationwide.
If there is one thing Brown wants the audience to take away from after watching the film, it would be to “find themselves or someone they know in the film, so it challenges them to make a difference in the fight to end rape on campus or help someone who has experienced it.”