Imani Robinson always knew she wanted to act. She just never knew how far it would take her.
With roles on several HBO shows, including “The Wire,” “The Deuce” and “We Own This City,” the 30-year-old Baltimore-native is about to take on a bigger platform by going international.
Her short film, “3 Blind Mice,” which she wrote and produced, is to be shown at an independent film competition in France held at the same time as the Cannes Film Festival. It stars fellow “The Wire” actors Tristan Wilds and Jermaine Crawford.
The film, which speaks to her mission of dissecting “Black experiences that have not been shown yet,” is part of the Diversity in Cannes Short Film Showcase. Robinson was nominated for best actress and best writing. The film also garnered nominations for best director, Letia Solomon, and best web series.
The Diversity in Cannes Short Film Showcase is sponsored by Academy Award winner Viola Davis’ Juvee Productions.
Robinson, who is now based in Brooklyn, New York, attributed much of her success to her Baltimore roots.
“Baltimore is such a unique city. Everyone in the city is real. To be a good actor is to live and breathe the character and be authentic. That’s how the people of Baltimore are naturally,” said Robinson, who attended the Waldorf School of Baltimore in the northern part of the city and Baltimore School for the Arts. She later graduated from the California Institute for the Arts in 2015.
“A lot of people in Baltimore have a dream and they work really hard to make it happen,” she said. “They are go-getters. It is inherent in us. We also have that cool edge to us that makes us distinct. That’s what has made us so successful as well.”
The Baltimore Banner recently asked Robinson a series of questions just before she left the country for the four-day event, which runs through Monday May 22. Here are her responses.
Tell me about “3 Blind Mice,” which will be screened at Diversity at Cannes.
I wrote, produced and star in a pilot titled, “3 Blind Mice,” which took me 75 rewrites and five years to come into fruition. The pilot is about Naeemah, a young Black woman raised by white parents, who transfers to an HBCU in Baltimore in pursuit of her Black identity.
What was the process like to submit the film?
We submitted the pilot to the Diversity in Cannes Short Film Showcase. The screening committee then reviews all films and votes via a ranking system, ultimately deciding if our project gets selected or not. My team and I are so thankful that it did.
What is the importance of representation to you?
Positive representation is essential to everyone. We all want to be recognized and acknowledged in the world we live in. Seeing yourself and your culture represented on screen is also very powerful and carries great influence.
“3 Blind Mice” is set in Baltimore, acting as its own character in the series. Unlike the drug corners, jails and vacant rowhouses viewers most often associate with our city, our canvas highlights this vibrant, artistic metropolis that is abundant in history, Black business districts, HBCU campuses and cultural enclaves. “3 Blind Mice” prioritizes the diverse and complex aspects of Black life that deserve intimate and detailed exploration.
I was determined to have “3 Blind Mice” represent Baltimore in a positive light. I believe my team and I conveyed it beautifully.
What role has being from Baltimore played in your life?
Baltimore’s spirit, flavor and swag is the soil where my creativity was first inspired. I take B’more with me wherever I go.
What role has being a graduate from Baltimore School for the Arts played in your life?
When you’re building anything, from a house to a relationship to a career in the arts — it all starts with a solid foundation. BSA taught and equipped me with the tools to pursue my career as an artist — not just how to practice my craft, but the confidence to pursue my dreams.
As an actress and writer, talk about the current writers’ strike and how it will affect the industry.
The writers strike halts the momentum within the industry. Many projects that were currently in production, as well as projects that were in preproduction, are forced to wait to see if their voices are heard. I do hope that the outcome of the strike will result in higher deserved pay [and] a stable pay structure and will stop the use of AI taking potential future jobs.
What’s next for you?
We are currently pitching the project to various networks. “3 Blind Mice,” I suspect, will be deemed as a classic, similarly to our beloved ’90s Black sitcoms. In my future, I see myself continuing to create unique and relatable content. I’m determined to be well respected in the film industry and creating a large and positive name for myself.
Authentic, loving and impactful art from the heart — for the world to experience, will be my continued mission.
This story has been updated to say Robinson's film was to be shown at the Diversity in Cannes Short Film Showcase and not the Cannes Film Festival.