Synopsis by Brian J. Dillard
A teen girl struggles to reconcile her desire for self-improvement with her rebellious nature and her lack of maturity in this coming-of-age drama, which won first-time director Leslie Harris a special jury prize at the 1993 Sundance Film Festival. Chantel (Ariyan Johnson), the self-possessed eldest child of hard-working parents in a Brooklyn housing project, hangs with her homegirls, helps out at home, studies hard, and holds down a part-time job. Stymied by teachers whose lessons she doesn't find relevant, Chantel asks her guidance counselor to let her graduate early so she can get a jump on college and eventually medical school; he declines, telling her that her explosive temper proves she lacks the necessary maturity. Meanwhile, frustrated by her responsibilities at home, Chantel begins making time with boys -- first with her broke but sweet neighbor, Gerard (Jerard Washington), then with the financially well-off, parentally unsupervised Tyrone (Kevin Thigpen), who refuses to wear a condom when Chantel begins having sex with him. When she becomes pregnant, Tyrone flips out and tries to pressure her into having an abortion; Chantel refuses, goes deep into denial, hides her pregnancy, and alienates even her best friend, Natete (Ebony Jerido). Reportedly shot for 100,000 dollars in just 17 days, Just Another Girl was billed as the first film ever written, directed, and produced by an African-American woman. The actors are mostly unknowns, although star Johnson would go on to appear in Hollywood features such as Bulworth and The General's Daughter. The hip-hop-heavy soundtrack made prominent and repeated use of rapper Nikki D's "Daddy's Little Girl," whose lyrics echo the film's story line and whose chorus samples "Tom's Diner" by Suzanne Vega.
African-American, against-all-odds, coming-of-age, guidance-counselor, high-school, housing-project, teen-pregnancy