Alumna Sasha Stewart '09 Writes and Co-Produces Docuseries 'Amend: The Fight for America'
Columbia College alumna and Film major Sasha Stewart ’09 wrote and co-produced the new Netflix docuseries Amend: The Fight for America.
Hosted by Will Smith, Amend delves into the history of the Constitution’s 14th Amendment, which granted citizenship to all people born or naturalized in the US and guaranteed all citizens equal protection under the law. The series provides a powerful and accessible examination of the 14th Amendment's impact on American life over six episodes. It was co-created by Robe Imbriano and The Documentary Group’s Tom Yellin and co-produced by Stewart, Larry Wilmore, Candace Rodney, Jamal Watson, and Angus Hall. The cast includes Sterling K. Brown, Mahershala Ali, Pedro Pascal, Randall Park, Samira Wiley, and Yara Shahidi, among others.
Amend draws on volumes of written and oral records as well as the perspectives of historians and activists. In an interview with IndieWire, Stewart said, “We had an idea of what the series would be, but it really came to life after we did those interviews [with the historians and activists]...As a writer, I couldn’t have been more thrilled to be able to listen to these amazing interviews with these incredible people, essentially getting a free graduate history lesson, and then using those bits and pieces to expand into new narrative ideas.”
Heavily rooted in the sound and interplay of language, the series incorporates recitations and reenactments that recontextualize the words of past speeches, writings, and affirmations. Additionally, each episode transforms its single-word title— “LOVE,” “RESISTANCE,” “WAIT,” etc.— into “monoliths” that tower above animated landscapes. These animated sequences were produced by the LA-based collective MakeMake.
Amend also aims to underscore the idea that people have always been pushing for change. “I think a lot of people feel like the Civil War happened and then it was silence and then it was the Civil Rights Movement. And that’s not it at all,” Stewart said. “Showing that even when all of the anti-Asian discrimination was happening in the 1880s and ’90s, that there were Chinese Americans fighting for their own rights and going to court, it shows you that there have always been people who have been fighting. I think that helps you, as an audience member, realize that you can make change happen, too. You can be a part of this struggle for equality.” (IndieWire)
Since graduating with a BA in Film, Stewart has worked on The Colbert Report as a graphics researcher and project manager, The Nightly Show as a writer, at Netflix as a consultant, and at ATTN: as a supervising producer.
She was also the head writer on Einhorn’s Epic Productions’ scripted young adult podcast series Daughters of D.C., which follows four friends at an elite Washington school. The friends’ dark secrets, which they share via private audio group chat, are leaked, and the girls are pulled into a government conspiracy that threatens to expose some of the world’s most powerful people.
Amend is now available to stream on Netflix.