How to Be Brown





Writer & Creator - Maya Bastian
Director - Darrell Faria
Development Producers - Maya Bastian. Asis Sethi
Producer - Asis Sethi

HOW TO BE BROWN is a fish-out-of-water story -- seen through the eyes of Leilani, a first-generation Indo-Canadian, who leaves the sheltered enclave of white suburbia to search for her identity on the big city streets of Toronto.
It’s 2001, and 18 year old LEILANI HARRIS is BROWN. She knows she is. She has looked in the mirror every day since she was three and seen very clearly her brown skin and black, boring hair and she hates it. She imagines herself blonde and beautiful like her idols: Britney, Buffy & Baby Spice. She never fit in at her all-white, privileged suburban high school. The kids there made a lot of curry jokes -- ‘Hey Leilani, does your junk smell like curry?’ Leilani has learned to adapt, cracking jokes whenever the conversation turns racist. But deep down, all she wants is to feel like she belongs somewhere, anywhere. She can’t complain to her parents because they are very white. Like adopt-an-Indian-baby-to-prove-how-progressive-they-are white. Like, put-up-a giant- map-of-India-in-their-home-so-she-feels-comfortable white. Leilani knows she’s brown…. but she doesn’t really know how to be brown. But she does know she will never fit in if she stays in suburban Oakton, Ontario. Her bestie NADINE (Caucasian, 18) convinces her that moving to the metropolitan city of Toronto will change everything. Good ol’ Nadine never cared that Leilani is unbearably hairy and her armpits sometimes smell like curry. She’s political and punk rock and she literally just gave herself a mohawk in protest of the patriarchy. Just like sisters, the two always have each other’s backs even though Nadine can be so…offensive sometimes. With so many cultures and ethnicities, Leilani is big-time intimidated by the big city. Never having grown up around people of colour, she feels lost in a strange place. Nadine says she can be ‘whoever she wants’ in this city. Now Leilani just needs to figure out who that is…and she’s going to try on every identity until she gets it right.