Film: BENEATH THE VENEER Sunday April 9th 2017 at 7pm

Tickets: $10

Beneath The Veneer is an independent documentary film about opportunity, success and inequity in the United States.

Beneath the Veneer is a story set in Asheville, North Carolina. It is also an American story, one that is being lived by millions of people every day; from Southern Appalachia across North Carolina; from The South to the rest of the US. 

 In pursuit of this story we go beneath the veneer of the American Dream and ask–what are the obstacles to success, how and by whom are they being challenged, what is success, what does it take to succeed? And ultimately, what does this mean to five black boys, their friends, their families, their communities and their country?

Beneath the Veneer follows the lives of five black boys growing up in America over the course of a year. Age 12 to 19, the boys all participate in an enrichment program entitled My Daddy Taught Me That. Keynon Lake, founder and director of the program, mentors 45 boys alongside his day job as a child protection social worker. Lake, an African American native of Asheville, NC is passionate about making a difference; in particular through mentoring underprivileged kids and exposing them to life changing events. His goal: to equip disadvantaged young men with the tools of success.
But what is success, and what does it take to succeed? The American Dream tells us that hard work and determination can overcome any obstacle on the path to success. Yet history has shown that those without access to wealth, power or privilege are less likely to experience success. If wealth, power and privilege have traditionally enabled individuals and communities to succeed, how do historically marginalized and disenfranchised communities prepare their youth for the future? And what does that look like through the eyes of their youth?

As we get to know the boys; at home, in school, in the community and at program events; we witness the impact of positive exposure against a backdrop of systemic inequity.

What is it to discover black history, cultural heritage, and genealogy? How does it feel to learn about one’s ancestors? Who were they, what were their challenges, their strengths, their achievements, and what can we learn from them?

What is the significance of being taken on a college tour to an HBCU (Historically Black College or University) when it’s likely that no-one in the family has been to college?

Over time we see the boys empowered to plan for their own futures through career and job readiness training, leadership mentoring and learning to manage money.

Through their eyes, we witness the impact of creative opportunity in the context of experiential workshops; including visual art, spoken word performance, radio broadcasting and music composition. What is it to question, self-reflect and create, not in search of fame and fortune, but for the sole purpose of creative expression and personal development?

The making of Beneath the Veneer is already having an impact: conversations are happening, connections are being made. It is envisioned that the impact will continue and will necessarily extend much further into the community than can be reflected by a single documentary. By way of connecting the impact of the film with the community at large, the production team is working alongside an advisory team under the umbrella nameCommunity Not Color.


Community Not Color consists of around 30 members of the local community: artists, business men and women, educators, therapists, community organizers, elected officials, professors and more. Community Not Color is committed to driving and/or supporting intentional and collaborative action that serves to invigorate and regenerate communities in need across boundaries of race, class, gender and sexuality. In addition Community Not Color will be working to build relationships in and beyond Asheville in order to promote an understanding of all intersections of social justice.


Beneath the Veneer is accepting donations 
through our fiscal sponsor,
a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. 

EMSDC is a nonprofit organization which serves the Asheville Buncombe County community in Western NC, by providing property development, economic development and access to human services. 

"Transforming Individuals into Assets: Investing in Sustainable Personal, Economic, and Community Development."

to donate to this project

Thanks to EMSDC your donation is tax deductible. 
Please request a tax letter if required.