"I like to consider myself as a restorer or preservationist of nursing stories, says For Nurses By Nurses Founder, Denetra Hampton, "Something like one who does the same with houses or heirlooms."
It was in March of 2018 when Denetra was discovered by her first story. Yes, you read that right. She is very clear about how she became a producer of film while navigating the world as a nurse. The story found her.
It was the story of African American nurses legendarily known as THE BLACK ANGELS; hailed out of Staten, Island, New York, at Seaview Hospital back in the 1920-40's, during a time when tuberculosis was running rampant and a nursing shortage was as vile as vomit. African American nurses stepped up, to not only provide the necessary care to dying tuberculosis patients, but contribute their science to the cure of the deadly disease. The now five-time producer of film recalls, "I was blown away by the enormity of the story, and couldn't believe no one really knew about it."
This was the beginning of her story-telling and the ultimate changing of the trajectory of her life. And so, Denetra made her first, 32-minute documentary. Since then, she has become a leader in unearthing and restoring nursing and medical narratives that speak to the long-standing, yet muted contributions of those of color. Furthermore, stirring not just the souls of black folks, but those of her white colleagues. "Throughout my five years of filmmaking, 99% of those who have hosted the films have been white nurses, says Denetra, " The data has been interesting to document, to say the least. With many layers of causation, I am grateful that those who don't look like me are taking the bull by the horn and making way for these stories. It speaks volumes about the work."
Upcoming Film Premiere
Denetra's upcoming film, A docu-drama, The First Four. Inspired by True Events, introduces the world to the first four African American nurses to graduate from the Provident Hospital and Training School for Nurses in 1892, Chicago, IL. Although a story not uncovered by Denetra and widely known in Chicago, the story has not been taught or discussed throughout the history of nursing. Denetra felt it should be.
The premiere screening and reception will be held at the Newberry Library in Chicago, IL, on March 9th. " I knew with the limited information on the nurse protagonist I had to do a docu-drama. The audience will get the facts of the story but we also dramatized certain parts to bring it to life." says Denetra.
Advancing The Science
The career conversation for Denetra has always been about advancing the science. As an advocate for the nurse scientist and the WHY of nursing everything she does is scientifically strategic. "People always ask me how am I doing this work as a solo production company and artist. There is not a single answer. It started with a sheet of paper and I am still writing the block-buster film. It comes from a lived experience that has acquired certain things. Things that you can always build upon such as integrity, excellence, and execution. It comes from purpose."
The value of research has been foundational to the work at For Nurses By Nurses Productions. The audacity to challenge what has been historically said or written and leading with the facts is challenging when promises of equity and inclusion have been broken. Within the last five years of groundbreaking work, the productions have created space and opportunity for multidisciplined scholarship to be dispersed. At this time, Denetra works with a team of artists, nurse scientists, public health scholars, filmmakers and mathematicians who freelance on her projects, this is the start of a new revolution. It's only the beginning.
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