Experiencing Interruptions?

Lil' RED is RIDING the wrong way in the HOOD!

This short film with a long title is a Hip Hop twist and gender twist on a classic cautionary tale. It begins with an adventurous little boy getting lost on the wrong side of town. Childhood labor and public safety may sound like heavy topics, but they're presented in an approachable manner in this timely and important project.

Lil' Red is Riding the Wrong Way in the Hood is not just an entertaining animated film set to a Hip Hop beat; it's a conversation starter for all ages. It allows us a chance to reflect on who to trust and when, and how to stay safe in an unpredictable world.

  • Venus Jones
  • Venus Jones
  • Venus Jones
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    7 minutes 31 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    June 30, 2023
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    Kenya, United States
  • Language:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Venus Jones

Venus Jones is a Renaissance woman and has served as a TEDx speaker, actress, performance coach, spoken word artist, and award-winning radio personality. She co-created a mobile app to push poetry and 7 principles with her husband Steve and became a global Kwanzaa queen. She’s appeared in a Marvel movie, on the cover of Spoken Vizions magazines, a billboard, worked at two major television networks, and served as a Professor of English and Communication at Mission College. Her poetry has been featured in esteemed magazines, journals, and anthologies, and she's self-published four albums and three books, she's earned praise from Hip Hop legend Chuck D., shared the stage with Nikki Giovanni twice and was called “Langston Hughes in the form of a Black girl” by Marjol Rush-Collette, the curator of the Langston Hughes Family Museum.

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Director Statement

"Lil' RED is RIDING is Riding the Wrong Way in the HOOD" is the first film I've ever produced. It took ten months of tenacity, and it's a gender twist on a timeless tale, offering crucial safety lessons set to a hip-hop beat. Imagine it as the pilot in a series of educational programs aimed at empowering young audiences. With enough support it's possible the story will continue. Time will tell, and it’s always telling, is what I often say.

Have you ever made a wrong turn in life? Picture Lil' Red taking more wrong turns than I care to count—sound familiar? I know I've made wrong turns, and I still do. But for too many, those wrong turns lead to dangerous places, especially for Indigenous, Black and Brown youth, who too often face the grim reality of child labor. In California alone, these communities are disproportionately affected by trafficking, with startling statistics regarding the ongoing exploitation for the most economically vulnerable among us.

Through this animation, coupled with post-viewing discussions, kids of all backgrounds can learn to spot warning signs and stay safe in their hoods or neighborhoods. It's not just entertainment; it's a lifeline.

This project is deeply personal given my fears as a child, and because I'm drawing from my decades of experience as an actress, poet, voiceover artist, and educator. But above all, I'm an "artivist," weaving art and activism into every frame.

Making this film was a journey fraught with doubt and distance—trusting an animator oceans away, communicating across time zones and around cultural holidays. And my animator's artistic vision matched my own which made me want to stick it out, but his deep accent made me want to write it out, in the virtual chat box. But with faith, self-determination, and a dash of movie magic, we brought memorable and relatable characters to a big screen to address an even bigger global issue.

With the support of grants and a talented team spanning two continents, we've created something that transcends borders and languages. And at its heart lies a crucial question: What happens when a young black "boy" meets a wolf in the urban jungle?

Despite its modest budget and extra long title, this film is a beacon of hope, sparking conversations that matter. It sheds light on a pressing issue, offering guidance and empowerment to those who need it most.