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Memphian creates a web hit with animated series 'Junt Land'

By Updated: September 21, 2018 6:35 PM CT

A “junt” could be any variety of things.

The word, which is a lively part of Memphis vernacular, can represent a person, place, thing or idea. It’s even the name of one of Memphis Made Brewing Co.’s beers.

Junt is essentially a form of the word “joint.” In Philadelphia, denizens use the equivalent term “jawn.”

A common denotation for the word junt is a love interest or potential romantic partner.

Junts and their relationships are topics in a viral animated web series called “Junt Land,” created this summer by Munirah Safiyah Jones.

Jones works in Memphis as a senior production specialist for a billion-dollar New York-based financial services company, where she creates videos for clients teaching them about the various benefits available to them.

“I have to make them super engaging because these are all things that people are afraid of, or super intimidated by,” she said. “So they’re available at conferences, e-learning courses, social media and the web.”

While she has been creating videos since she was a teenager, her profession has helped better inform the animated part of her content.

For “Junt Land,” Jones is using the same skills, just with different content. “Junt Land” is a marriage between Jones’ experiences dating and her experiences navigating life as a woman.

“Specifically, a black woman,” she said. “More specifically, a black woman with strong ideas and beliefs and convictions that often contrast with what society says they should be. I’m supposed to be married, yada yada yada. And it’s not just me, it’s a lot of women. And it’s a place for me to amplify that, and just show progressive women navigating a world where there are gender norms. I also explore modern relationships through the unique lens of living in the South, living in Memphis. With humor.”

On June 11, she posted the video “Dating in 2018 – How Men Communicate.”

“So I had this idea floating around in my head for a while, the premise was basically I wanted to illustrate how it is for women communicating through text, with the man that they’re trying to get to know,” she said. “And how men, through text, communicate with women that they claim they’re trying to get to know. At least trying to get to a dating level.

“Nowadays, you can start a relationship through text, you can definitely end a relationship through text,” she said. “So texting is a major form of communication. And bad communication and minimum effort when you’re trying to get to know somebody is just tortuous in general.”


“I wanted something that encapsulated a piece of Memphis culture that I love, which is junt. Then I wanted something to capture the space of moving about as a junt. So something that captured the dating scene and how it feels to move about that scene, to really feel like a junt out here. In a good and bad way.”
Munirah Safiyah Jones, 'Junt Land' creator


Originally Jones wanted to create something live-action, versus animated, to make it more relatable, but she did not want to be at the mercy of other people’s availability.

So on a Friday she started conceptualizing it, doing dialogue and creating the characters. As she kept going, she felt it click. Through Saturday and Sunday she continued the dialogue, finished animating it, voiced it, edited it and posted it on Monday.

“I posted it at 8 o’clock on a Monday, then I put my phone down and went to work,” Jones said. “I didn’t think anything of it, because it was Monday, it was 8 o’clock, it was a little animated video, ‘My friends will probably like it or share it.’ But I picked my phone back up and there were all of these notifications.

 “One of the first comments that I saw was somebody saying, ‘This is about go viral. Get ready.’”

Within 24 hours, the video had racked up a million views on Facebook. The video now has more than 3.2 million views on Facebook and another 200,000 on YouTube.


“I’ve been told that I am singing women’s lives with my work. I’ve been told I’m perpetuating false narratives and stereotypes of men. I’ve been called a genius. I’ve been called a bitter bitch. But I’ve been also called by major production companies in Hollywood. So that last part is what I’m focused on."
Munirah Safiyah Jones, 'Junt Land' creator


“Celebrities were sharing it and people were writing articles about it and people were talking about it on their podcasts,” Jones said. “I still don’t know all the places that’s it gone. But I know that it has traveled pretty far.”

The male voice, by the way, was inspired by her brother.

“I had never done any kind of voice acting, but I’m used to doing voices, just day to day being silly,” she said. “That’s kind of how he talks. He’s an intelligent guy, but he does have that Memphis, Southern drawl, and it’s a slow cadence. It’s deep.”

And about the name?

“I wanted something that encapsulated a piece of Memphis culture that I love, which is junt,” she said. “Then I wanted something to capture the space of moving about as a junt. So something that captured the dating scene and how it feels to move about that scene, to really feel like a junt out here. In a good and bad way.”

The feedback that Jones has received runs the gamut.

“I’ve been told that I am singing women’s lives with my work,” she said. “I’ve been told I’m perpetuating false narratives and stereotypes of men. I’ve been called a genius. I’ve been called a bitter bitch.

“But I’ve been also called by major production companies in Hollywood,” she said. “So that last part is what I’m focused on. The comments on Facebook and YouTube, it’s either a cesspool or you feel like a god. So I try not to visit too much.”

Right now, “Junt Land” exists as short clips, but Jones wants it to have more breadth and live on, something that she said is in progress.

“Hopefully you’ll see a longer format, and a fleshed-out world and characters,” she said. “Stay tuned.”

The advice she gives others is to not just sit on their ideas.

“I spent a lot time not doing anything, because I was like, ‘What’s the point? It’s just going to be out there in the void, because there’s so much stuff out there, nobody’s going to look at my stuff.’ But when people do that, what they don’t take into account is that when you sit on your work, you sit on your perspective, you sit on your voice. And literally no one else has that on earth. They might have similar. When you sit on your perspective, you’re sitting on your life.”

https://youtu.be/I52otNjTFv0

 



Topics

Junt Munirah Safiyah Jones
Elle Perry

Elle Perry

Elle Perry covers arts and culture and other news for the Daily Memphian. She is a native of Memphis and a two-time graduate of the University of Memphis. Elle previously worked for the Memphis Business Journal and has written for publications including The Memphis Flyer and High Ground News.


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