Press Advisory

MEDIA ADVISORY: The Hip Hop Project

A Reel Progress Screening

Featured Panelists:
Robin “Kheperah” Kearse, Mentor and Educator, The Hip Hop Project
Chris “Kazi” Rolle, Founder and Star, The Hip Hop Project
Scott K. Rosenberg, Producer, The Hip Hop Project
Matt Ruskin, Director/Co-Cinematographer/Editor, The Hip Hop Project

Moderated by:
Melody Barnes, Executive Vice President for Policy, Center for American Progress

From Executive Producers Bruce Willis and Queen Latifah, The Hip Hop Project, winner of 13 film festival awards, is the compelling story of Kazi, a formerly homeless teenager who inspired a group of New York City teens to transform their life stories into powerful works of art, using hip hop as a vehicle for self-development and personal discovery.

Kazi challenges these young people to write music about real issues affecting their lives as they strive to overcome daunting obstacles to produce a collaborative album. Russell Simmons, hip hop mogul and long-time supporter of the project, partners with Bruce Willis to donate a recording studio to the The Hip Hop Project. After four years of collaboration, the group produces a powerful and thought-provoking CD filled with moving personal narratives and sharp social commentary. Frank Scheck of the Hollywood Reporter calls The Hip Hop Project an “inspirational… compelling, uplifting tale.”

Please join us for a provocative panel discussion and Q&A session immediately following the film.

Space is extremely limited. RSVP required. First come, first served.

RSVP for this Event

Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Program: 7:30pm to 9:30pm
Admission is free.

The screening will start at 7:30 pm sharp.
Doors open at 7:00.

For more information, please call 202.741.6246.

Please let us know in advance if you have any needs for special accessibility so that we can be sure to accommodate you.

Landmark E Street Cinema
555 11th Street NW
Washington, DC 20004
Map & Directions

For more information, please call 202.741.6246.


Robin “Kheperah” Kearse is a record label veteran, powerful speaker, arts-based educator and prolific writer. Her ability to affect positive change in others and within herself inspired the name KHEPERAH, meaning Transformation. Kheperah donated her services as a marketing mentor to The Hip Hop Project, contributing to the teens’ production of a professional quality CD as well as a live performance showcase before an audience of entertainment industry professionals.

Kheperah has led community programs focused on youth development and empowerment, and created GEMNASIUM, a workshop series that focuses on inherent self-worth and empowerment of individual purpose. She has worked with government offices to promote dialogue, education and positive alternatives to youth violence and risky behavior, and has served as a host, mentor, and on-air personality.

Kheperah began her music industry career in 1992, in the A&R division of Def Jam Records. Her well-rounded tenure includes Sony/Columbia, Sony Wonder, Sony/Epic and Arista Records/Bad Boy Entertainment. She served as the General Manager at One + One Records, an artist-development centered startup label. She was the Director of Marketing at Russell and Kimora Lee Simmons’ Jewelry Company. Most recently she was strategically brought in as the General Manager for Pressure Point Films, and has transitioned into a full-time spokesperson for The Hip Hop Project and General Advisor to Pressure Point Films.

Nationally, Kheperah conducts motivational speaking engagements and self-development workshops. She continues to employ her resources and experience in urban music marketing and youth development to positively affect the lives of our nation’s youth and their communities. She currently resides in New York City with her family.

Chris “Kazi” Rolle is the inspiration behind The Hip Hop Project. Born in Nassau Bahamas and abandoned as a baby, Kazi grew up in foster homes and orphanages. Falling victim to the intense pressures of his surroundings, he dropped out of high school and began hustling and selling drugs in the streets to survive. After a few short visits to numerous NYC penal institutions, Chris became determined to focus his energy in other areas. In 1991, Chris discovered the Tomorrow’s Future Theater Company and began directing, writing and acting with the urban theatrical productions that fused Hip Hop and drama to tell tales of everyday life in the inner city. His play, A Brooklyn Story, earned him the 1994 New York Governor’s Citation and Martin Luther King Jr. Award. Chris graduated from the New York City Public Repertory Company (an alternative arts high school) in 1996 having won the Playwrights Competition.

In 1999, Chris created Art Start’s Hip-Hop Project, an award winning after-school program that connects NYC teens to music industry professionals to write, produce and market their own compilation album on youth issues. In 2000, Chris was featured in “People Who Are Using Their Lives,” The Oprah Winfrey Show.

In 2005 Chris founded Momentum, a hip-hop music label that prides it self in development, education and empowerment of its artists. Chris is co-founder of A.P.EX., a non-profit organization that hosts monthly college preparation workshops, culminating in a tour of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Kazi is presently working on his highly anticipated debut album, Many Faces. He travels nationally, inspiring and motivating audiences with lectures and live performances. Chris is currently a New York City resident.

Scott K. Rosenberg is the producer of The Hip Hop Project. He studied filmmaking at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts (BFA 1987) as a University Honors Scholar where he won the Fuji Film Award. He has worked as the media-arts coordinator for the Museum of the City of New York, an artist/teacher for Studio in a School and the director of the Media Works Project, a filmmaking and media literacy program he created for “last chance” high school students in New York City. In 1991 Scott founded Art Start, a non-profit organization, to help homeless children and teenagers and other underserved kids transform their lives through the creative process. In 1997 Art Start received the President’s Service Award, the nation’s highest honor for community service. In 2000 Scott and his work with the kids of Art Start were featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Scott began developing The Hip Hop Project in 2001.

Matt Ruskin is the Director/Co-Cinematographer/Editor of The Hip Hop Project. He studied film production at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts where he graduated in 2002 as a University Honors Scholar. In addition to his studies, Matt worked with mentor Darren Aronofsky during the pre-production and production of Requiem for a Dream. While studying under renowned documentary filmmaker George Stoney, Matt produced and directed The Glen of the Downs, an award-winning film about the first international environmental protest in Ireland. Since graduating from NYU, Matt has been working exclusively on The Hip Hop Project with filmmaking partner Scott Rosenberg for more than five years. He is currently writing and developing several documentary and narrative feature projects.

Melody Barnes is the Executive Vice President for Policy at the Center for American Progress where she coordinates and helps to integrate all of the Center’s policy work, from the policy departments, fellows, and the Center’s network of outside policy experts.

From December 1995 until March 2003, Ms. Barnes served as chief counsel to Senator Edward M. Kennedy on the Senate Judiciary Committee. As Senator Kennedy’s chief counsel, she shaped civil rights, women’s health and reproductive rights, commercial law, and religious liberties laws, as well as executive branch and judicial appointments. Ms. Barnes’ experience also includes an appointment as Director of Legislative Affairs for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and serving as assistant counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights. During her tenure with the Subcommittee, she worked closely with Members of Congress and their staffs to pass the Voting Rights Improvement Act of 1992, which was signed into law.

Ms. Barnes began her career as an attorney with Shearman & Sterling in New York City and is a member of both the New York State Bar Association and the District of Columbia Bar Association. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of The Constitution Project, EMILY’s List, The Maya Angelou Public Charter School, and The Moriah Fund. She received her law degree from the University of Michigan and her bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she graduated with honors in history.

Inspired by Kazi’s work, 100% of the net profits from this film are being donated to organizations working with youth.

To view the movie trailer and for additional information about the film please visit –