Weight of the World

Where enslaved narratives and the 21st century collide.

Project type: Documentary Feature
Project status: Development
Director/Producer/Writer: Michelle Renee Jackson, MDiv
Co-Producer: Mark Herzog
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Weight of the World is a televised anthology series with fictional present-day storylines whose dialogue is solely derived from the original transcripts of the federal Workers’ Project Administration (WPA) interviews of formerly enslaved African-Americans during 1936-1938. This is American documentary theatre on screen.


Each episode features multiple short, present-day storylines with independent conflicts, characters, character and story arcs, plots, and premises.

Each storyline functions as a conduit through which the WPA interviews live, breath, and are presented to viewers in an unprecedented format. Through contemporary voices, bodies, and storylines, we support African-American memory of enslavement with renewed life.

Weight of the World weaves contemporary characters throughout each storyline. The Homeless Vet in “The Loner” appears in the “The Soldier.” The Police Officer in “The Coed” appears in “The Protector.” This is how we demonstrate the interconnectedness of our shared human story throughout history and the world.

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Meet the Filmmakers

Michelle Renee Jackson, MDiv — Writer/Producer/Director

Michelle wrote and directed Another Slave Narrative, which reenacts the 1930s WPA interviews of formerly enslaved African-Americans using a multiracial cast. Her film won first place at the African-American Women in Cinema Film Festival and has helped transform viewers’ relationship to the legacy of slavery in America.

She is a graduate of Harvard Divinity School and UCLA where she studied the intersections of religion, race, gender, and sexuality. After competing as a slam poet in Cambridge, MA, she began screenwriting at Vassar College in 2010.

Michelle is a member of Women in Film, Film Independent, Harvardwood, and the Association of Black Foundation Executives. She 8+ years of nonprofit fundraising experience with an emphasis on major gifts. She has been featured in the Huffington Post and Black Nerd Girls. She recently served as a guest programmer and moderator for the Virginia Film Festival, and currently serves as a researcher for a yet-to-be announced one-hour drama on HBO. She looks forward to upcoming guest lectures at Yale University and Cornell University.

Mark Herzog — Co-Producer

Mark is the founder and CEO of Herzog & Company, where he directs and executive produces projects for CNN, ESPN, and HBO. His credits include CNN’s the decades series: The Movies, The Sixties, The Seventies, The Eighties, The Nineties, and The 2000s, produced in partnership with Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman; ESPN’s The American Game and The Greatest in celebration of 150 years of college football, and Oxygen’s Dirty John: The Dirty Truth.

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