Sun | May 28, 2023

Pepita Little graduates UWICFP; now a screenplay writer

Published:Thursday | February 3, 2022 | 12:07 AMSade Gardner/Staff Reporter
Pepita Little.
Pepita Little.
Pepita Little (right) and her mentor, Eka Campbell.
Pepita Little (right) and her mentor, Eka Campbell.

Parting ways with an organisation after being given an ultimatum that contradicted her value system left Pepita Little destitute. But Little was happy to honour her beliefs. And as the saying goes, when one door closes, another opens. Little is now a trained screenplay writer following her graduation from the UWI Community Film Project (UWICFP) last week, the ceremony for which she was also valedictorian.

“It was divine,” Little told The Gleaner. “I was like okay, I see you, God … On graduation day, I felt strong, developed and confident, like I could go out there and write a speech like (Martin Luther King Jr’s) ‘I have a dream’. That’s how it made me feel, and I know that’s how it made the youth feel as well. A lot of them really found themselves, and it’s really cool that working professionals believed in us so much that they contributed all of their time to help us through this course.”


The UWICFP, through the Mona Social Services (MSS), has been helping to socially and economically uplift inner-city youth since 2011 through film-making education. Little said her neighbour was part of the programme and told her about it, so she decided to sign up when they came to her Port Royal community in October.

“They told me there’s also a little stipend, so aside from learning, I’d also be given the resources to come back to learn some more and even buy something to eat, which sounded good,” she said. “We did a little interview, and they called to let us know who was successful. At first, I thought they wouldn’t let me be a part of it because maybe they didn’t think I was in need like the other young people, but I actually am because I don’t have any parents, and it’s kinda hard to operate in the world without parents.”

The spunky personality was raised by her late father as her mother was mentally ill. She got a head start in the entertainment sector, performing alongside the Fab 5 band at annual Christmas concerts held at her childhood school, Wolmer’s Preparatory. She continued to explore her artistic passions at Holy Childhood High School, where she formed part of the choir and drama club, the latter for which she was once president.

“Acting is my number one passion; I always wanted to be an actress from I was little,” she said. “I always wanted to meet Tyler Perry. I always wanted to go to Hollywood.”

Through the programme, Little learnt the rudiments of screenplay writing, directing, editing, and even got to do voice acting and production management. Her mentors include former Jamaica Film and Television Association executive board member Kaiel Eytle, director Eka Campbell and film-makers Kyle Chin and Ina Sotirova. The venture was not without its challenges, but Little is proud that she stayed the course.

“The mentors were very attentive and treated us like family, and we rapped with other persons from different communities. A lot of people dropped out. I wanted to drop out once because some people didn’t pull their weight, and it’s younger people, so sometimes they say some things, and you’re just like ‘ugh’. It had its highs and lows, and all of it shifted me into realising and becoming a screenplay writer now, so it was a great experience.”

Her final project yielded her first screenplay, For the Love of Mangroves, a story about a young girl from Port Royal who forms a lifelong friendship with a dying mangrove. She credited her scriptwriting mentor Sotirova for helping her with the piece, which will star Majah Bless and his daughter Ngozi. The film is currently being edited and will premiere at the streamed graduation ceremony this month on the MSS’s YouTube channel.

Little is currently working on adapting Campbell’s love story The Return of My Ancestors into a screenplay, for which she said she’ll be acting in. Little made her acting debut in Majah Bless’ 2009 Real Ghetto Youths Part 2 film and has since made other appearances. She is also readying content for her YouTube channel, Peptalk Ja.