Recently, singer Jessie Reyez released a harrowing video for her song "Gatekeeper"—a track that directly confronts sexism and misogyny in the music industry—from her EP Kiddo. It's a powerful song that demanded similarly compelling, raw visuals to accompany it. That music video's concept comes from a fuller length short film also called Gatekeeper, which was written in part by Reyez. It focuses on a night Reyez went through five years ago at a party with major male industry player who tried to pressure her into having sex with him to help her career. In the film, she speaks earnestly at first about how she only ever dreamt of being a singer. The night unfolds from playful partying, freestyling, and singing to a far worse and into a situation where her worth and work were measured by how she could please the man who potentially held the key to the success of her career. A gatekeeper, as he calls himself, as he yells at her in a car after she denies him what he wants. It's not just a sobering look at what women face in the industry. It's a difficult and truly heartbreaking account. A woman whom Reyez doesn't know well in the film sits in the front seat of the car all while this Gatekeeper man yells at Reyez, calling her a fucking bitch for not having sex with him, and this woman is silent. It's a deafening complacency that this woman tries to smooth over by telling Reyez that this is what she needs to do to succeed. When dreams are on the line, true dreams, it's hard to make a choice that potentially threatens the fruition of them. It's a struggle we can see on Reyez when, near the end, she admits to thinking about doing it and how that thought alone was enough to almost destroy her.
Reyez wrote a letter exclusive to Noisey to the nameless culprit, which you can read below:
Watch the film:
Sarah MacDonald is an Assistant Editor at Noisey Canada. Follow her on Twitter.