Together with agency The Lucy Collective and nonprofit organization Gift of Life Marrow Registry we created short film, ‘Blood is Thicker’ featuring rapper and lyricist Terrell “Trizzy” Myles. Directed by Mill Director Gundeep Anand, the piece encourages others to join the fight against blood cancer and save lives.
The short film features an original poem and music by Myles, who was inspired to bring a message of hope and a resounding call to action that reminds us how one selfless act can positively change the outcome of a life, a family and an entire community.
This message gives voice to the mission that has driven Gift of Life’s work for the past 30 years: to ensure that every patient battling diseases like blood cancer, immunodeficiencies and sickle cell gets an equal opportunity to benefit from the treatment that can save their life. While a bone marrow or stem cell transplant gives the hope of a cure, only 25 percent of Black people can find a match, whereas 98 percent of White/Caucasians can find a lifesaving donor. Because the best chance of a match is with someone of the same genetic or ethnic heritage, the vast under-representation of Black people in the national and worldwide registries means many patients die needlessly. Yet, as Myles powerfully states in the video, people “…have the power to save a life with the simple swab of the cheek”, when they join the registry.
‘Blood is Thicker’ was shot in and around Phoenix, Ariz., and showcases 21-year old Myles and his friends, along with a visually compelling montage of Black people in communities throughout America to represent the fact that ordinary people—fathers, mothers, sons and daughters—can have the extraordinary need for someone to offer the hope of second chance at life.
“As someone who has dealt with a genetic disorder that left me deaf in one ear, I see my life as a story of survival and hope,” said Myles. “My goal is to have an impact — through this film and in my music—and to remind others, especially young, Black people like me, that we have the power to make a difference.”
Director Gundeep Anand adds, “Not so long ago, I lost a good friend of mine as we couldn’t find a matching donor in time for him. Seeing this brief really resonated with me as my friend faced the same challenges as those who were unable to find a match. I really hope through the work we’ve done with this film that we can raise awareness and change the disparity that currently exists within global healthcare. We really sought to craft something authentic and original grounded in the energy Terrell inherently possesses, as well as help young potential donors realize that they have the power to change lives.”
‘Blood is Thicker’ and its accompanying website are part of a larger initiative launched by Gift of Life to respond to disparities, not only in blood cancer, but also the broader issues that the pandemic has further exposed. The organization is working in partnership with the NAACP and its Youth and College Division to host a series of virtual town halls, “Education in Action: Addressing Healthcare Disparities in Our Communities,” to equip and empower student-led communities to advocate for social change. Featuring an esteemed panel of speakers—from the descendants of Henrietta Lacks to Karen Weaver, the former Mayor of Flint, Michigan—each of the events delve into the various barriers, reflective in other systems of care, that include mistrust of the healthcare system, lack of patient education, inadequate opportunities for economic, physical and emotional health and much more.
“The issues surrounding healthcare inequity are systemic and complex and need to be confronted with new, innovative solutions,” said Gift of Life CEO and Founder Jay Feinberg. “Now is the time to act and we’re excited to work with an extraordinary talent like Terrell and partners like the NAACP to educate communities on the issues and to others join in the fight”.