DeShuna Spencer, journalist, entrepreneur & filmmaker

In my early 20s I worked for two newspapers–one in Jackson, MS and one in Oakland, CA. About 50 percent of my story assignments consisted of crime stories, or as we say in the newspaper industry, the “cop beat.” At the two newspapers, I wrote mostly about young black men and women getting gunned down in their neighborhoods.

I grew tired of interviewing the grieving mothers for my news story. I hated witnessing their pain. I carried each mother’s agony home with me every night. And it always brought me back to the pain that I felt when losing my boyfriend, Ade, to gun violence while a freshman at Jackson State University.

At 24, I decided to leave the newspaper business and began working on a media model that would combine journalism with activism. A few years later, my flagship publication,, was born. I vowed to never interview a grieving mother again. But all of that changed last year. While attending the Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Conference last September, Diane Latiker, founder of Kids off the Block in Chicago, gave a tearful plea to the guests attending her panel to do more than just sit in on a discussion about how to combat gun violence in the black community, but also be a part of the solution. She said that if we could listen to some of the stories that she heard from mothers who lost their children, the violence would stop. Right there, sitting at that panel discussion, I came up with the idea for Mom Interrupted.

A few days later I found out about an event in the District called A Mother’s Tea, which is an annual brunch for parents who have lost their children to violence. I contacted the organizers of the event and asked if I could attend in order to find seven women to interview for my film project. About 25 women signed my form and after doing so research, I selected the women for my documentary.

In November 2013, the women graciously invited me into their homes to discuss their beloved children who they lost. They not only opened up their homes to me, but the courageous women also shared their family photos–footage that I used in the film.

I will be forever thankful to the mothers who allowed me to film tell stories.