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"Put It in a Book":

A Story of Adversity and Perseverance

Cesar Gonzalez           Media Credit: Magali Ruer

Issue date: 3/4/09 Section: A&E

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jabrial_news1Every now and then you meet someone who has overcome so much adversity their life story would motivate the Grinch to save Christmas, but it's rare when you come across one who is so young and has so much life still to live.

Jabril Muhammad is one of these people; a sophomore at Santa Monica College, he was selected by the Make a Film Foundation to write and star in a short narrative film titled "Put it in a Book" along side well known actors Michael Ealy and Kerry Washington.

"Put it in a Book" is a film about a young boy named J.B. being raised by his older brother Akmed in a tough Los Angeles neighborhood. Akmed gets gunned down in front of his home and is found by Sheila (Akmed's love interest) and J.B. lying dead on the sidewalk.

J.B. has to now choose his destiny by either avenging his brother's death or taking the advice given to him by Akmed: avoid gangs and do well in school. After his brother's death J.B. is rummaging through Akmed's collection of books when he comes across a note, he remembers his brother telling him "if you want to hide something from a black man, put it in a book."

When taking the note to Sheila, J.B. is stopped by the same group of thugs that murdered Akmed. In a powerful scene, J.B. and his brother's killer stare each other down, their faces inches away from each other.

Whether or not J.B. goes after the man who killed his brother is left open, although, there's a great scene that leads you to believe he does. "It's like a twist for film, for J.B. to do the right thing," says Jabril. "Put it in a Book" is directed by Rodrigo Garcia and was financed by donations and grants through the Make a Film Foundation.

"This is a story of a young man growing up in L.A. searching for the answers," said Jabril. This story is very similar to his own story of struggle as well. "I wanted to write something that I was involved in, something that will touch others," said Muhammad who was raised in foster care with his older brother Shareef since the age of nine.

Although his brother didn't die in reality, his film death was inspired by the growing differences in the direction of their lives. "He didn't die but I felt he died spiritually," said Muhammad.

Muhammad was born in 1988 in Ladera Heights to a middle class Muslim family. In 1997 his family life was deteriorating; his mother Khadijah had been placed in Olivine hospital for mental instability while his father Rasheed was sent to prison.

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