“Crown Me” - Shorts Challenge

“Crown Me” - Shorts Challenge, by Amirah Adem

April 2, 2024
Mary Grace Gallagher

What started out as an assignment from her college professor asking his class to come up with bad ideas ended up sparking Amirah Adem’s imagination and inspiring her concept for this year’s Shorts Challenge.

What if a Black, female lawyer disguised herself as a white man in order to more easily navigate corporate America?

“I was just thinking about something that was an absurd social commentary,” said Adem, 24, who is in her second year of a master’s program at the University of Southern California. “But then my professor pointed out that this was actually not a ‘bad idea,’ if it’s well-written and developed. And I just started thinking about that woman–any woman–in a male dominated industry and following it through.”

Her script follows Abigail, who endures a series of microaggressions from her coworkers and superiors in a conference room where everyone is competing to hold a golden crown, a kind of symbolic prelude to a promotion.

When her frustration hits the breaking point, she disguises herself and gets the inside perspective on their racist behavior.

Adem says her work is inspired by director Boots Riley, whose “Sorry to Bother You” and “I’m a Virgo” left her “in a trance.”

“His production and design all highlight the absurd, but as social commentary,” Adem said. “It’s something you can understand is serious and yet it’s comedic. I loved it and it’s what I’d like to do with my script.”