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Director of hit Sundance doc on Black trans women comes home to Miami

Kokomo City follows four Black trans women living in New York and Atlanta.
Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.
Kokomo City follows four Black trans women living in New York and Atlanta.

The artist D. Smith left Miami for New York in the early 2000s. Now she’s back in town as the director of her first film.

D grew up in a musical household in Opa-locka. Her dad was a drummer.

She worked as a music producer in Atlanta, making records with artists like Lil Wayne, Ciara and Billy Porter. She was even nominated for two Grammys.

But D left the industry after she transitioned. Actually, she says she was pushed out. When she introduced herself as a trans woman, her colleagues stopped calling.

That rejection eventually led her to make her first film — Kokomo City. It follows four Black trans women living in New York and Atlanta. D wanted to focus on Black trans sex workers.

The trans women we usually see onscreen are in full glam, but D wanted to show them dressed down, in their homes.

The effect is raw and intimate.

Kokomo City premiered earlier this year and has already won awards at the Sundance Film Festival. It’s opening in Miami Friday night at O Cinema on South Beach.

On the August 3 episode of Sundial, director D. Smith joined us to talk about making her film debut in her hometown.

On Sundial's previous episode, David Castro joined us to talk about what that means and growing up in South Florida.

Listen to Sundial Monday through Thursday on WLRN, 91.3 FM, live at 1 p.m., rebroadcast at 8 p.m. Missed a show? Find every episode of Sundial on your favorite podcast app, such as Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, and Spotify.

Wilkine Brutus is the Palm Beach County Reporter for WLRN. The award-winning journalist produces stories on topics surrounding local news, culture, art, politics and current affairs. Contact Wilkine at wbrutus@wlrnnews.org
Elisa Baena is a former associate producer for Sundial.
Helen Acevedo, is WLRN's anchor for All Things Considered.