We're big fans of MITDistrict. We first came across their work by way of their (gorgeous) coverage of the surprise Wale show on H St. earlier this year on Instagram (all of which they generously tagged to the #aCreativeDC feed); we've kept up since. The most recent MITDistrict project is one we're so glad they're taking on: the NATVS® campaign tells the stories of DC-area born "superstars and emerging talent" through a series of documentary shorts. It's far too often that the D.C. success story is co-opted by whichever city is typed into the GPS of the seemingly inevitable moving truck/ticket out, and NATVS® makes a point to focus on artists, athletes, and personalities "united by their relentless dedication to following their own paths," but who continue to recognize D.C. (or the D.C. area) as their home.
First up? Dusty Hernandez-Harrison, a 21-year old boxer from SE, and one of the first fighters to sign with Jay Z's Roc Nation. The current WBC Youth World Welterweight Champion, he's also second in the world with the best undefeated record after Floyd Mayweather, with 26 wins and zero losses. We'd been following Dusty for a while on Instagram (he's a photographer, too!) and we absolutely loved the intimate, hometown-hero look that MTDistrict takes in part one (and especially part two) of the YouTube-hosted doc.
We were able to snag Nicole Pinedo, MITDistrict head and director of the NATVS® series, for a quick chat about the project and about the D.C. creative scene at large. And keep an eye on the various MITDistrict channels: NATVS® is slated for several more installments, with announced subjects including indie go-go band Rdgldgrn and D.C. United goalie Bill Hamid.
Your thoughts on the D.C. creative scene? I definitely think the culture is growing. There was a time where I had lost hope but I have found it again, LOL. I felt like for the longest time D.C. was in such a stagnant place creatively, but I see light at the end of the tunnel now.
There are a lot of young people at the forefront of new creative ventures that are changing the creative scene in D.C. everyday. Like the guys from DC to BC, you guys, and a few other individuals from different backgrounds, whether music, fashion, design, etc., that are really trying to shift the culture, impact the city and make vital changes to move the city forward. And I really commend them because it's giving the people something to look forward to, a breath of fresh air. They're pushing forward. D.C. is not the same as it was 5 years ago, that's for sure. I like to think that in the next 5 years, we will change the outlook the rest of the country has on the city.
What was your biggest takeaway from the Dusty chapter of the NATVS project? I connected with Dusty at Broccoli City Festival this year. We talked about the documentary and he said he was interested and we shot the week after, I think. I have a fascination with people with tunnel vision, that are doing something with their lives/careers, pushing each day to make their dreams come true.
Dusty is an inspirational guy. He has worked so hard his whole entire life, gone through troubles and tribulations to get to where he is today, and he never gave up. I always feel inspired from stories like his and that's why I feel like it's important to document them.
Everyone in the documentary series has a platform to be able to tell their stories, [to] represent where they're from, but also get to inspire others, especially the youth, to reach higher.
images from the NATVS™ photography series courtesy MITDistrict – photos by Veronica Sequiera