Using art as a vehicle to invoke thought

Before she became a filmmaker and producer, Cindy Hurst was always an advocate of the African American cause. 

“I love discussing issues about our community,” Hurst said via telphone.  

The films Hurst produce are mainly about the Black issues. She takes the films around the world and holds discussions about various problems. Her most recent film, The Story of Charlie Granger, gravitates into the sports world and explains what Granger had to deal with in his football career. 

“Charlie Granger wanted me to originally write a book about him,” she said. 

The funny part is, Granger lived in Hurst community in Baton Rouge and didn’t realize it. 

“He was a hero to my eyes because he went through a lot of racism throughout his career and was the first pro athlete from my alma mater,” said Hurst, a Southern University alumna who majored in psychology.

She also went to well known Prague Film School in Europe where she produced her first film and was inspired to be a filmmaker.

“When I came from Prague I was fresh out of film school,” she said.  “That’s where I became inspired.” In 2009 after her book Natural Woman was released, her filmmaking career jumpstarted

“It was originally supposed to be a published book, but instead evolved into a movie,” Hurst said.

“I went all over the country and interviewed people about natural beauty with Black women.” 

Natural Women addresses the psychological and philosophical implications that occur within African American women and their hair.   

Hurst believes the natural look started within the older generation of Black women, but now it’s starting to get common among the younger women. 

“The younger generation is starting to feel more comfortable with their natural hair,” she said. 

“I believe Black men had a lot to do with how women wore their hair. At first, Black men in my opinion, didn’t care for the natural look, they wanted long straight hair, but now I feel it’s changing.”

According to Hurst, it was prayer and determination that helped her start in filmmaking. She wanted to be independent and produce films in her own way.

“I am independent because I do not want anyone to tell me how to make my films,” she said. “I don’t want to make compromises, this is my art and I want to promote it in my own way.”

Growing up, Hurst considered herself to be a very tough critic of films. She enjoyed documentaries and drama.

“I was a tough film critic and was always drawn into documentaries. I pay close attention to how movies aremade.”

Hurst is a fan of director and producer Ken Burns. Her favorite films are The unforgivable blackness: The rise and Fall of Jack Johnson and The Color Purple.

Not only is Hurst a filmmaker, she’s an activist for the African American community as well.

“If it wasn’t for film making, I would have become a lawyer.”

Hurst is a fan of football and being from Baton Rouge, she’s a fan of the New Orleans Saints and rival Grambling State University Tigers. 

“I’ve always loved the atmosphere of GSU ever since my childhood,” she said. 

Hurst’s upcoming project is called Before Baseball, a film that sheds light on the sport of horse racing.

“This film is about Black jockeys,” she added. “It sheds light on the sport because many African Americans do not know that horse racing was popular within the Black community before the Civil War.”