• Film

Idil Ibrahim: “I feel supported”

Somali-American director Idil Ibrahim is one of the Queen Collective filmmakers. Along with five other women, she has participated in the talent development initiative that was created in partnership with Queen Latifah, Flavor Unit Entertainment, P&G and Tribeca Studios in order to help accelerate gender and racial equality behind the camera. This program is welcomed by directors like Ibrahim.

“I know a lot of women who are in lateral positions as me and we are always hoping to get our break,” says Idil Ibrahim from her home in Los Angeles via a Zoom call. “As woman directors, we are constantly trying to find our next opportunities and oftentimes it is challenging getting funding or support and access to certain programs. The benchmarks are always changing.”

For Ibrahim, the support from Queen Collective has been significant. There is a belief in the participants that they can succeed as directors. There is help with funding and the support does not only include production but also in distribution as well. And Queen Latifah herself is very engaged in the work.

“She is just really down to earth and present,” explains Ibrahim. “She has seen all of our films, she knows who we are as directors and in addition to showing up at events, she supports us by showing our work. It feels like it is a vehicle to shepherd our careers rather than just a one time thing.”

Ibrahim completed the short documentary film In Her Element in the program, and was one out of six participants. Luchina Fisher directed Team Dream, Vashni Korin directed Negra, Yo Soy Bella, Imani Dennison was behind the camera on Bone Black: Midwives vs. The South, Contessa Gayles directed Founder Girls and finally Jenn Shaw’s Gaps was the only fiction short in the program.

“I do see a vast difference between my male friends in the industry versus my female and non-binary friends in the industry and the trajectory of our careers, including what jobs we have access to. So programs like Queen Collective or the TIFF writers’ program, which I have just been part of, propel us. Breaking through the glass ceiling is not always easy, so it is great to get the support.”

The six Queen Collective projects will be available on demand and for streaming across BET platforms upon their release in the spring of 2024. In Her Element premiered February 24 via BET’s slate of TV and digital platforms and was aired in conjunction with the 54th Annual NAACP Image Awards, which Ibrahim attended with the other participants. Queen Latifah was hosting so it was a special experience for Ibrahim.

“It was really nice to be around such talented Black women directors,” says Ibrahim of the experience. “I felt a sense of pride in what we each created. It was really encouraging to be there and knowing that we have created something to represent.”

In Her Element follows the journey of the up-and-coming artist Daisha McBride as she breaks through as a hip hop artist in the country capital of Nashville, Tennessee.  The young artist is breaking boundaries as she asserts herself as a black queer woman in a world, where she might seem less likely to succeed.


“I was attracted by her strength and tenacity to try to penetrate and conquer a space that was not inviting to her,” says Ibrahim. “So while Acme as a venue is trying to break boundaries and make sure that they bring in other acts, there are so many hidden politics in Nashville that you learn about when you are there. There is a lot of backstory of racial history in Nashville and how that legacy impacts people but also the music scene. “

Daisha McBride’s coming out story is presented in a very positive light in the film. Her family is accepting and the artist feels encouraged to reflect on her sexuality artistically.

“I wanted to avoid any kind of trauma porn,” says Ibrahim. “It can almost be radical to have a loving supportive family and church in the south that support her. It does not mean it was always easy for her. But I thought it was important to include a loving Black family because we do not often get to see the representation of a loving and supportive Black family on TV with no conflict.”

Ibrahim is what she calls a ‘hyphenated American.’ She is American and she is Somali and she considers herself intercultural, which she also wants to reflect in her story telling.

“If I have a voice it is about sharing human stories and personal experiences and bringing people together,” she stresses. “ I want to help build empathy and tell amazing stories whether they are difficult stories, comedic stories or dramatic stories in really compelling ways. I just want shed light on human experiences.”