In case you’ve somehow missed it, Jay-Z (or Shawn Carter, the name he prefers to use for projects outside music) has a brand new credit to his name: Producer of Rest in Power: The Trayvon Martin Story, which starts airing today, July 30th. The documentary is a six-part, unscripted series which chronicles the devastating story of Trayvon Martin, the Florida teen who had a deadly encounter with George Zimmerman back in 2012 — Martin was unarmed, but under Florida’s “stand your ground” law, Zimmerman shot and killed him. When Zimmerman was brought to trail and acquitted of murder charges, it help launch Black Lives Matter, a powerful activist movement that continues to this day.
Seeing how much Jay-Z’s creative pursuits involve music, it’s a pleasant surprise to find he’s pivoting to filmmaking — and telling such an important story at that. In an interview with the New York Times, the rapper-producer explained that his involvement stems from his desire to educating people about what really transpired and getting them to take action.
Carter explained that he doesn’t believe that it’s a celebrity’s responsibility to shed light on important issues. Rather, he believes that raising awareness and getting involved is everyone’s duty.
He added: “And until we get into that place, things like this will continue to happen. We’re still on basic problems. This is like, you’re white, I’m black. I mean, there are so many different levels of all the complexities of things we have to get through as a human race, and we’re still on basic levels.”
Carter is right: if we become more proactive and learn to strengthen our own empathy regarding these landmark issues, that’s when real change will happen. You can read his full interview here, and Rest in Power: The Trayvon Martin Story premieres on Paramount Network and BET tonight at 10 p.m. local time.