Updated: Nov 11, 2019
How We Think About Religion and Sex In Our Everyday Lives
Nicole Collins of Magnolia A, LLC. Nicole Collins is an actress, host and filmmaker. Born and raised in Alexandria, Louisiana, Nicole’s creativity blossomed in the creative epicenter that is New Orleans. Her acting credits include the Oscar winning film, 'Twelve Years a Slave' and HBO's 'Treme'. Nicole began her career as a radio host on New Orleans’ top rated radio station, which led to hosting opportunities with the NBA, Essence Festival and We-TV. Nicole has produced, written and created over ten film projects, garnering accolades from festivals including WorldFest Houston and The Validate Yourself Film Festival. Nicole's goal is to continue to create content for underrepresented voices. Raised by a strong mother and grandmother, Nicole is using her guidance as well as her new found band of elders to help influence her in the biggest role of her life, mother to actress Aadyn Encalarde. She is currently the Producer's Assistant on the feature film The Outlaw Johnny Black.
We were able to catch up with Nicole and ask a few questions about her short film "Guilty." In Guilty, Misty is determined to finally experience an orgasm but first she has to overcome the only thing, or person, that's in her way- White Jesus. Her priorities are tested in this dark comedy about freedom from religious guilt.
DS: I want to start off by saying great work on your film, “Guilty.” It’s right on topic as we discuss religion and sexual pleasure in today’s world. What sparked the idea to create “Guilty?”
NC: I grew up Catholic and as most of us know fornication is heavily frowned upon. In Catholicism, it is stressed that sex is for procreation purposes between husband and wife only. Also, I joined an abstinence club in high school where we vowed not to have sex before marriage. Let’s just say I have a child and I’ve never been married so that lets know you know how well I’ve stuck to the vow. I created Guilty as a way to work through some of the Catholic Guilt I’ve experienced and that others have mentioned experiencing as well. I wanted to create a world that was comical yet eerie to fully express how the subject makes those I’ve spoken with feel.
DS: Erica Campbell was on the Breakfast Club recently promoting her book, “More Than Pretty,” and she stated that if you are looking to live a pure life, don’t cheapen the pleasure of sex with masturbation. In the film, you battle with the idea of masturbation, but admitted it made you feel dirty. Why was masturbation off the table but premarital sex wasn’t?
NC: In my Catholic experience, masturbation was worse than sex. There’s something awfully dirty and vile about pleasing your own self- according to religious leaders and sex educators I’ve had. It’s really all just mental. I believe, for some, being alone doing these things to yourself as opposed to someone else doing them to you can create more of a mental guilt trip. I’m not opposed to masturbation and I actually think it can be very beneficial in some cases, however, mentally it has created more issues for me than premarital sex. I still haven’t watched the interview so I can’t comment to exactly what I think she meant but I do know that some people feel like masturbation takes away from the sacredness of what they believe sex to be. If anything, I believe masturbation helps with this and the discipline of choosing your partners.
DS: Unfit Christian, Danielle Thomas talked about women wanting to be saved and respected in the church but also wanting an orgasm. Why do you think there’s such a conflict of interest between sex and religion?
NC: Religion has been used to suppress women sexually for ages. According to some teachings, we (women) weren’t meant to enjoy. We were meant to be an accessory to a man enjoying sex while we lie there, get pregnant, birth the babies and take care of them all. Wow, what a life. Why can’t we also enjoy sex? People can find a scripture to support whatever their agenda is but the bottom line is that in 2019 women aren’t just a man’s accessory to an orgasm. We enjoy sex just as much if not more than the next man. Most religious People I’ve encountered equate sex to purity and purity to how close we are to God but this has usually only applied to women. This is such a turnoff especially in a world where, again, we enjoy sex just as much if not more than the next man. I’m a firm believer in responsibility, discipline and personal connection to God. I’m responsible with my sex, I have discipline in the areas I know to be disciplined in and I have a very strong connection with God that allows me to not be confined to what a man believes I should be doing with my body or vagina. I’m not sure that there are many religions that give their female believers this type of freedom. Women are human; we, too, enjoy sexual pleasure. And while we are on the topic, historically, there are many women who believe women shouldn’t enjoy sex like men do. I believe that has to do with these women not experiencing an orgasm because they don’t know how to make themselves have one or because they’ve been with men who don’t care enough that they experience an orgasm. Therefore, they wouldn’t see the joy in it.
DS: When I saw white Jesus on your dresser, it reminded me of a time when some black households had pictures of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and white Jesus hanging on their wall. We expressed discipline and loyalty. Was it intentional to use the phrase, white Jesus to remind us of that discipline when you and the guy playing Ahmad couldn’t
have sex while white Jesus was watching?
NC: Growing up I would see White Jesus in homes of my black family. Some would have brown Jesus but I found it particularly odd to have White Jesus there. “We are black” I would say to myself. Not to mention as I grew up and did my own research into who Jesus was and is and where he came from, I found it more bizarre that this supreme figure was portrayed as white and it was passed off and accepted as truth. That is why I used the character, White Jesus- to remind me and us that we must seek out truth for ourselves before being completely mind controlled over how we should go about governing our bodies.
As far as the scene with Ahmad, it shows the hypocrisy of humans. He’s a playboy who has sex whenever, wherever but he’s also a believer when it serves him. As long as he isn’t constantly reminded of his transgressions he’s free to do what he pleases. Women usually don’t get this type of pass. We are constantly reminded of how a woman should be or what makes a real woman, or how women should act, etc. Ahmad is all down for fornicating but not in the presence of White Jesus (not saying he would in the presence of Black Jesus either but White Jesus is the character in the short for reasons previously explained). It is comedic to me and it is real.
DS: In the film, you believed that you’ve been punished for having premarital sex, which is why you can’t have an orgasm, but you are willing to give it a try again. How do you combat the thought of being punished for having sex while seeking sexual pleasure?
NC: I think we do this everyday in some capacity. Maybe it doesn’t feel like a punishment but a roadblock. We feel like if we truly want something and keep going for it then we can achieve it no matter what obstacles are in the way. I think sometimes, some of us, feel as if we a singled out because of some power beyond our control. Misty, a fictional character, represents a woman who understands that she’s going through a mental maze due to her religious upbringing. She’s believes that she’s allowed a fictional character (White Jesus) to manifest into something real, in her head, and It's blocking her sexually when everyone else is able to enjoy it. In my research, some of the women who’ve felt this exact way will eventually stop trying if the feeling continues and chalk it up to not enjoying sex. Then there are the women who’ve been able to break through their mental barriers to enjoy sex in the way that they want to enjoy sex. In writing this fictional portion of the film, I kept these women in mind and thought about the phase before they realized whether sex was enjoyable or not- the phase where they were exploring the possibility.
DS: I noticed you will be filming Regina Taylor’s “Crowns.” Tell us more about that, and when can we see it?
NC: Thanks for asking! I’ve created an original short film titled, Crown, which is not an adaption or influenced by Regina Taylor’s Crowns. We went into production in June 2019 with an amazing cast and crew plus we were able to mentor 3 high school students from Animo South Los Angeles. We have a completed short film and have started our film festival submissions. We will be in a festival near you soon! Please keep up with us at www.MagnoliaAProductions.com or @crown_shortfilm on instagram. I’m also working on my webseries Maternally Yours, which explores the mother/daughter dynamic. You can keep up with the series @MaternallyYoursSeries on IG. We will be kicking off our crowdfunding for that one November 11.