NORMALIZED is an intimate look at the complexities of manhood, childhood trauma, and how mental instability can lead to detrimental decisions that will either kill you or make a cautionary tale out of you while seeking to discover the answer to the question, “What does it mean to be ‘normal’?”

  • Ziad Foty
  • Alexandra Bellamy-César
  • Ziad Foty
  • Damien Coor
  • Charles Penny
  • Julian Foster
    Key Cast
  • Maya Ferrario
    Associate Producer
  • Ryan Mayers
  • Charles "CJ" Penny
    Executive Producer
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    22 minutes 53 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    August 20, 2021
  • Production Budget:
    45,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Ziad Foty

Ziad Foty is an award-winning independent filmmaker and the founder of Foty Fusion Films. His films seek to highlight underrepresented stories in an effort to challenge the dominant representation in film.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

Mental health is a topic that is hard for many to speak about especially when they are perceived by society to be successful and “Normal”. According to the Census Bureau over 7 million African Americans reported having a mental illness in the past year. Because of the stigma associated with speaking about mental illness especially amongst black males, many choose silence as opposed to seeking therapy.

I was inspired listening to CJ, the host of the “Normalized Podcast” which chronicled his multi-faceted struggles with mental health. Having dealt with mental illness within my own family, I was immediately struck by his brutal honesty and willingness to strip down to his most vulnerable state to his viewers. In doing that, he provided a platform and space for his audience to be as truthful as he was about such a stigmatized subject. Working with Co-producer Damien Coor I was inspired to bring his story to the silver screen because of how urgent his message was in a country where we are in a mental-health crisis.

The aim of the film was to reveal the naked honesty that CJ articulated in his podcast while providing a cinematic experience that pushed the viewer out of their comfort zones in terms of their perceptions of normality. In understanding, CJ’s struggles to become “normal” and his constant battle with how he defines normality, the hope is that this film complicates the notion of one singular normal and how artistic outlets such as podcasts can be a powerful medium for self-understanding and self-healing. In addition, the film hopes to reveal that mental health is a constant daily battle with one's self and trauma