Monique Marshaun is an actor, writer and first-time filmmaker from the south side of Chicago. Inspired by magical realism and fairy tales, her work aims to center Black and Brown bodies in traditional and experimental narratives that embody the whimsical and the fantastical. Monique is a graduate of Northwestern University.
Divine is a collaborative film created by Sebastian Olayo, Monique Marshaun, and their performance collective, The Front Porch Oracles. Inspired by Sebastian’s writings, this piece is a testament to healing through chosen family and stepping into your truth. What was supposed to have been a short live stage performance, transformed into a short film with Monique Marshaun’s directorial vision. Made as part of the 2020 Hot Wheelz Festival with DIVINE Art Book, this short film came together in one month with very minimal resources, but with a grand vision in mind. The Front Porch Oracles is a performance collective of multicultural artists dedicated to telling stories that honor our spiritualities, cultures, histories, and healing with integrity, equity, and love. They aim to transform our relationship with performance to one of healing, in a place where they take care of themselves, their actors, and their witnesses. They see our untapped potential in everything that they do and commit to unleashing our collective magic. Through film and theater, TFPO is committed to making work that is accessible to the people and cultivating opportunities for new and emerging artists of color to develop their work.
The Protagonist in DIVINE is queer, trans, divine and defiantly celebrating their whole self and their connection to the world and to their ancestors. Reflecting on strained relationships with family and double-edged affinities with femininity and matriarchy, the Protagonist recounts their difficult and deeply personal struggle to claim identity and to live in the truth and courage of their ancestors. Threaded with captivating visuals and backed by a chorus of water spirits, the Protagonist's journey stands as testament to the power and freedom of self-determination in the face of misunderstanding, prejudice and hate.
The film showcases some of Chicago's natural landscapes on the South Side. The lake plays an integral part of the short film and can even be considered its own character. The film was made and produced by DIVINE Art Book, a collective of Chicago artists facilitating conversations of divinity, religion, spirituality, relationships with the church, and a lack thereof from a critical queer, trans, BIPOC lens. Our work aims to engage LGBTQ+ and BIPOC communities in our city.
Family rejection, societal prejudices and the ongoing reckless and discriminatory vilification of trans people lead to vulnerability and difficulty for LGBTQIA+ youth as they navigate their coming out and self-determining processes. Nationwide, it is estimated that 20-40% of the 1.6 million homeless youth in our country identify as LGBTQIA+. To learn more about this crisis, and to discover ways to help these young people, visit:
This film takes its name from the DIVINE Collective, a collective facilitating conversations of divinity, religion, spirituality, relationships with the church, and a lack thereof from a critical queer, trans, BIPOC lens. Learn more at divineartbook.com.