nullWhen most
people think about the combination of Black folks and horror films they think
of the stereotypical “first to die” trope (one that is too true), and then
depending on your generation, ‘Candyman,’ ‘Blacula,’ or even the TV series
‘True Blood.’ Though a shift is occurring through the continual work of the ladies
on the Graveyard Shift Sisters website, initial thoughts certainly do not bend to
Black people actually working to make horror films. But then you’d be wrong
there too. 

Dark Rite’ is a supernatural thriller by director Richard
LeMay (‘Naked As We Came) about
a family of witches who descend upon a small town.  In the vein of ‘Rosemary’s Baby,’ the film begins as a thriller, and
slowly moves into a world of inescapable horror.   Dark in tone but not a “Black” film (the only Black characters involved are actor Justiin Davis (‘Boardwalk
Empire’) as the 4th lead, with Chester Jones III (‘Hey Diddle Diddle,’
‘Parallels’) and Margaret Laurena Kemp (‘Children of God’) in smaller roles) the
film is however produced by a Black female team.

Assembled to make “The Dark Rite’ happen, not by race
but by skill, were three talented women – producer Trevite A. Willis,
co-producer Nicole Sylvester, and line producer Stephanie Dawson – who have all
made their mark on the industry and are steadily climbing further. 

Trevite A.
Willis has produced award-winning short and feature films including the Bahamian
drama ‘Children of God,’ which aired on Showtime and had theatrical releases in
the USA, United Kingdom and The Netherlands. She previously produced the
romantic comedy, “What a Man Wouldn’t Do for a Woman”, and the Black gay
coming-of-age, “Blueprint”, a film festival favorite. Willis also produced the
DGA Best Student Film – African American Award winning “Uncle Killa,” which was
selected as an HBO finalist at the American Black Film Festival, and picked up by

Nicole Sylvester, a
Detroit-native, made a name for herself as a coordinator for independent and
studio productions such as  ‘8
Mile,’ ‘Hard Ball,’ ‘*61,’ and at Jeff Daniels’ company Purple Rose Films where
she was Distribution Coordinator for the feature ‘Super Sucker.’ She soon began
producing and directing her own films – 
shorts ‘The Stop’ and ‘Minor Blues,’ and her feature film directorial
debut ‘Layla’s Girl,’ a heartwarming film co-starring Richard Gant (‘Men of A
Certain Age’)’ about one woman’s journey toward peace and healing after the
death of her estranged mother. ‘Layla’s Girl,’ played at several film
festivals. Nicole also produced Pete Chatmon’s web series ‘Queen Hussy,’ a
raunchy mock reality show comedy based in 1974, and she is currently developing
the feature ‘Maya and Her…Lover?’ which focuses on a woman who finds herself
pushed beyond her limits when she begins an affair with a much younger man.

Stephanie Dawson worked
in the IT world before transitioning into video and film production. She
started EclectionMedia in 2006 to create short form videos for private clients
and under that banner produced several short films including ‘Not Another Heist
Movie’ (2009), ’A Little Bit of More’ (2010), and most recently
‘Hypothetically,’ currently in the festival circuit. She also produced
independent web series ‘Death’s Door’ (2011) and ‘Scout & Maggie’ (2014).Additionally, Stephanie works as a freelance production coordinator, production
manager and line producer for various mediums, with credits on ‘Kelly & Cal’
(IFC Films 2014), ‘Jamie Marks is Dead’ (2014), and ‘Beneath’ (Chiller Films,
2014). Stephanie has also assisted independent producers such as Laurie Parker,
Joyce Pierpoline, and director Alison MacLean. In her spare time, Dawson writes
film reviews for the lifestyle blog Limité

Check out the trailer for ‘The
Dark Rite’ below, and if you haven’t already, start to follow the work of these
three talented Black women.