Friday, December 25, 2015

A Victim of Violence Finds His Artistic Voice

Life is often all about turning points. For Altadena, California native Nashon Ratcliff, a pivotal such moment occurred in 1997.

A high school and university classmate of Jaleel White, the actor who played Steve Urkel on the ABC sitcom Family Matters, Ratcliff was 19 and had just started working in Hollywood as a P.A. on The Keenan Ivory Wayans Show, a syndicated late night talk program. But his first weekend after starting, Ratcliff was brutally assaulted in his car at gunpoint in the parking lot of a 7-11, by a male passenger he had just met. In the ensuing struggle, they both suffered minor gunshot wounds.

The experience left Ratcliff traumatized. For the next ten years or so, he stumbled through life, juggling acting, dance and production work with depression and street prostitution, before finally moving to the New York City area in 2012. And it is there, several years later, that he has found support for Shooting Range, a short film project inspired by the 1997 assault.

In 2014, Ratcliff scored a $3,000 grant from the Bronx Council on the Arts (BCA). He was also a contributor to the BCA anthology Bronx Memoir Project, Volume 1, which was supported by a $40,000 grant from the National Endowment of the Arts. Ratcliff hopes to complete Shooting Range by next fall.

From a recent piece in The Bronx Times :

Before moving to NYC, Ratcliff began writing the manuscript of Shooting Range, which reflects on his life-altering experience as well as being a victim of hate crimes and other incidents that occurred in his life as a result of his sexual orientation and him being transgender.
The title Shooting Range originated from when his assailant had the gun in Ratcliff’s mouth and asked him if he had ever been to a shooting range.

Ratcliff initially rekindled his creative voice in New York via writing workshops at Red Umbrella Project, the Actors Fund of America and the Bronx Writers Center. And this summer, he participated in the Voices of Our Nation (VONA) annual summer writing workshop held at the University of Miami.

In the Bronx Times article, Ratciff alludes to the fact that his assailant was subsequently charged with the sexual assault of a minor. He told reporter Steven Goldstein he believes Shooting Range can have a meaningful impact on survivors of violent crime, as well as help foster discussion about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

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