November 6, 2023

 Words: Mimi aka #TheWrestlingChic

WWE Superstar Ettore "Big E" Ewen, journalist Andreas Hale, and graphic artist Jonathan Davenport had a chance encounter in 2020 that led to something special. At the time, Ewen's creative partners were simultaneously stranded by the COVID-19 pandemic and deeply affected by the murder of George Floyd. Faced with racial unrest around the world, they knew they had to do something. In order to find inspiration and solace for themselves and their community, the three creatives turned to each other and their creativity. Their coping culminated in Our Heroes Rock!. One of their chief influences was Schoolhouse Rock!, an animated series of educational short films (and later music videos) aired on the ABC network as part of its Saturday morning children's programming. Various topics were covered, including grammar, science, economics, history, mathematics, and civics. Its original run lasted from 1973 to 1985. Ewen, Hale, and Davenport designed Our Heroes Rock! to showcase unsung Heroes of Color in Black History in a similar (but enhanced) format.

Through the fusion of Hip-Hop music with stunning 3D animation and a family-friendly sci-fi feel, the result was to create fascinating short films with the hopes of educating audiences of all ages about important historical Black figures with an engaging approach. After cooking the concept in the kitchen, Ewen, Hale, and Davenport ran an overly successful crowdfunding campaign, which allowed them to grind for three years before partnering with animation studio Something's Awry and Grammy-nominated Hip-Hop artist Rapsody to create their first of hopefully many animated short film series installments, Bridges

In October 2023, Big E announced that Bridges would be making its world premiere at the UrbanWorld Film Festival, which is an annual five-day festival based in New York City showcasing narrative and documentary features, short films, web originals, music videos, spotlight screenings and conversations, and live staged screenplay readings. Bridges was featured in the 7 Shorts: What Is Mine category, which showcased films from around the world highlighting characters with societal reflections, historical echoes, and personal reckonings, and the films featured moments of introspection, inspiration, conflict, and resilience. 

Bridges follows the story of Maya, a lonely 12-year-old girl who struggles with social anxiety and is unable to connect with her peers. One day, Maya takes a virtual field trip to a futuristic Black History museum, The Hall of Heroes. With the help of E-Tour (voiced by Big E), the film explores the heroes of Black History. Maya joins a group of virtual students to discover the story of Ruby Bridges, an American civil rights activist who made history at six. In 1960, when the federal government ordered the New Orleans school system to integrate, Bridges became the first African-American student to attend a once-whites-only school. Many whites opposed to integration reacted with hostility and racism toward Bridges. Since only one teacher would teach her, Ruby was in a class of one, escorted to and from school by federal marshals. Though it was a struggle, Ruby demonstrated courage and perseverance despite the challenges. To this day, she represents racial equality in education.

By the film's end, Maya overcomes her fears and has gained the inspiration she needs to escape her shell—resilience, bravery, and acceptance for who you are bled through the story. Bridges celebrates diversity, courage, and friendship, inspiring the audience to embrace their authentic selves and overcome any obstacles. After the screening, the audience enjoyed a short panel discussion with the creators and stars of each film. Davenport, Ewen, and Hale shared the vision for this project, their passion for sharing history infused with music, and an ambition to make more films down the road.

Be sure to check out BRP's content on our website, and check out our Black Rasslin' Podcast Patreon for exclusive pro wrestling content.

Mimi aka #TheWrestlingChic co-hosts #TurnbuckleTalk every Tuesday at 6:35pm ET and contributes to the Black Rasslin' Podcast.

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