Sheryl Lee Ralph, along with The DIVA Foundation, has unveiled her new documentary short “Unexpected” at the 2023 Essence Film Festival in New Orleans. The documentary short, produced by Ralph and directed by Zeberiah Newman, follows Masonia Traylor and Ciarra “Ci Ci” Coven, two young mothers who have turned their own HIV diagnosis into selfless activism.
The film documents them as they travel to rural parts of the country to connect with newly diagnosed women and offer supplies, information and most importantly hope. While hearing from experts on the subject, including Dazon Dixon, Krista Martel, and Linda Scruggs, the documentary brings the audience on a ride along with Ci Ci and Masonia as they road trip to the rural south to expand their sisterhood and let these women know they are not alone.
This beautiful film highlights the disproportionate impact of HIV among Black women, particularly in the US South, and portrays the lived experiences of motherhood, the challenges of navigating healthcare systems, and the impact of community.
“I really believe in this documentary piece and how the stories of Masonia Traylor and Ciarra “Ci Ci” Covin have come to life in a meaningful way to help women living with HIV all over world,” says Ralph, an Emmy award-winning actor, author, singer, philanthropist, and community activist. “I admire their clarity, strength, and bravery. I’m happy to partner with Zeb on ‘Unexpected.’ His storytelling ability is exceptional and I love when storytellers have a runway and a path to soar.”
By Samantha Ofole-Prince