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Beyond Expectations

Philadelphia males of color are speaking their truth—and we’re listening.


Together with creative partners FreshFly Films and PWPVideo, we have created documentary films, videos, and podcasts of Philadelphia Community Champions sharing their stories. We want to bring these stories to you and hear your stories.

The City of Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services’ (DBHIDS) Engaging Males of Color (EMOC) initiative is designed to improve the mental health and wellness of males of color in Philadelphia. First Person Arts (FPA), Philly’s premier storytelling organization, is partnering with DBHIDS to amplify, share, and archive the stories of males of color in Philadelphia that shatter mis-perceptions and highlight the brilliance and resilience of males of color. 


What happens at an EMOC BEyond Expectations Event?

An EMOC BEyond Expectations event includes the following activities:

  • Screenings of films and videos, podcast listening parties, or live storytelling events
  • Post-screening audience talkback
  • Audience storytelling
  • Connecting and relationship building
  • All EMOC BEyond Expectations Events are FREE.


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Become A Community Champion Today!

We call our storytellers Community Champions because they share their lived experiences so that others can triumph over trauma. Former Community Champions include well known celebrities such as: Black Thought (The Roots), Fantin Danzler (Kindred & the Family), Grammy Award-winner Bilal, Hip Hop artists Freeway & Peedi Crakk, Comedian Ali Siddiq, Yazz from Fox’s smash hit “Empire”, Super Bowl champion Raheem Brock, and Actor Keith David. Learn about other ways to bring storytelling to your community.

Engaging Males of Color Content

"We Breathe, We Live: Protest Stories"

This short film captures the emotions and perspectives of men of color inside Philly’s BLM protests. A mix of powerful spoken word and raw testimonials, We Breathe, We Live is an incredible opportunity to have honest conversations about race and social justice in Philadelphia and the country as a whole.

"Letter to My Father, Letter to My Son"

The bond between fathers and sons is challenging and beautiful. Males of color share the joy, laughter, hurt and pain of this powerful relationship. Features Fatin Dantzler of Kindred the Family Soul.


Viral Choreographer, Kemar Jewel created the visionary storytelling dance piece, “Legendary” featuring the Xcel Dance Crew, to amplify the stories of LGBTQIA males of color throughout Philadelphia.

"Letter to My Father, Letter to My Son: Evolutions"

This sequel continues the remarkable stories of fathers and sons, this time including a woman of color storyteller. The project shares stories of the pain of losing a father and the valuable lessons a father had to teach his boys on how to navigate the world. Features journalist Bill Anderson.

"Beyond Numbness and Anger"

Numbness and anger have been normalized in the lives of many males of color. But what if there was a space to share the stories that lie beneath? Males of color openly discuss the challenge of incarceration, being undocumented and living through community violence. Features nationally known comedian Ali Siddiq.

#US - Five People. One Moment: Love in the Heart of the City Podcast

Five men from various backgrounds and ages discuss how they maintain their emotional well-being against the backdrop of the many issues that face Philadelphians every day.


Interested in bringing an EMOC BEyond Expectations event to your community?

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