“From the time our ancestors were brought over, a diabolical plan was set in place, and this is the outcome.”
Asim Jamal Shakir Jr., was only three months old when his parents and 40 others were indicted in a huge federal case. Prosecutors say his father oversaw a criminal enterprise that stretched from Los Angeles to Tennessee as leader of the Rolling 90 Crips.
They even filed notice on their intent of seeking the death penalty.
“Land of No Pity is based on true events. It’s a ton of layers to different stories, it isn’t based on a central character. The central part of the story is land of no pity the actual place.”
Jamal Jr., just finished shooting the pilot for his t.v series Land of No Pity, which is based upon a novel of the same written by his stepmother, Toni Shakir.
“It’s our family heritage. The beginning of 9-0. The house we were shooting at, that’s the house I grew up in out here. I felt it was only right to keep it authentic and all the way raw and uncut,” Jamal Jr., detailed one afternoon at the Hot and Cool Cafe in Leimert Park.
The novel is comprised of stories told to Toni by Jamal’s father and drawn from her own personal experiences. She was one of dozens who were indicted with his father.
Upon her release from prison, Toni was deported back to her home country of Jamaica.
“I was so young when it happened,” Jamal Jr., said. “When I hit that age where I was able to understand certain things, that’s when it really hit me. But I feel I have a great support system. It was never like I was really missing anything.”
Shakir Sr., known as “Donut” from the Rolling 90 Crips, would later be sentenced to 24 life sentences. Lameisha Anderson, Jamal Jr.’s mother, is due to be released from prison in a few years when he turns 24.
“The origins of gang-banging and representing your hood in Los Angeles is big. That’s why we chose to make it indulging for the gang-members. That way, as the story progresses and we show the silver lining of what it’s actually supposed to be, they will be more inclined to listen and pay attention.”
Jamal Jr., has come a long way from the crime riddled Los Angeles streets he was born on. At 11-years-old, he moved with his Aunt to Atlanta. Up until then he lived with his grandmother in South Central.
The 21-year-old will walk the stage of LaGrange College in Atlanta later this week with a double major in Kinesiology and Digital Creative Media and Film.
He notes his love of football as leading him to pursuing a college degree at a small, predominantly-white university in Atlanta.
“It was huge culture shock even though I grew up in Georgia. It was something I had never witnessed before.”
Jamal Jr., found comradery amongst teammates which made the culture shock of college easier to manage.
Like many Black men from disadvantaged backgrounds in the U.S, football serves not only as an avenue to college but as a way for them to see other parts of the world.
“It actually took a while before anybody would talk to us. There were other Black people on campus, but none from the same background we were coming from, so there was kind of this divide.”
While in college, Jamal Jr., found a creative outlet and his love of being behind the camera. His internship with a local videographer Shad Tha God, led him to working with rappers and directing music videos for artist such as T.I.
Jamal Jr., feels a sense of responsibility behind the camera and uses it as a tool to address prominent issues in the Black community, including police murders of civilians.
Jamal Jr., says he hopes to provide education on the origins of Los Angeles street gangs through his visual project for ‘Land of No Pity.’
“The pilot is gang and drug indulged but the overall premise of it, that’s not what it’s for. It’s to create awareness. For us as Black people to be able to create awareness and capture that audience, you have to immerse them in something they can relate to.”
He completed all the pre-production work himself which he said took about eight months. This included penning scripts, developing a wardrobe, getting the necessary permits and insurance and gathering the cast.
“Jonathan McDaniel from Hit the Floor, I brought him on as a producer too,” Jamal Jr., said. “Once I got the opportunity to meet him I just shot my shot. I never mentioned my dad. Just being a 21-year-old, owning the equipment that I own, having the vision that I have and the script I wrote out.”
Coming back to Los Angeles after college to shoot the pilot, Jamal Jr., says he sees a lot of unawareness in the youth.
“You see how much it’s changing with the different races and cultures moving into South Central and us slowly moving out. I see a lot of unawareness of us as Black people in South Central.”
He plans to premiere the pilot for Land of No Pity at LaGrange college April 18, the same day he walks the stage to recieve his diploma. After that, he plans to submit the film to various film festivals.
“Believe in yourself. There are going to be a lot of different obstacles and hoops you have to jump through, trying to create your own project and do it yourself. Once you set your mind to it, you just have to continue to push it and not let anybody stop you until you actually see what you want come to life.”
Land of No Pity the novel is available on all platforms including Amazon and Google Books