Jasmine is a Star Image

Jasmine is a Star

By William Blick | March 28, 2023

Jasmine is a Star, written and directed by Jo Rochelle, introduces us to Jasmine, a teen living with Albinism. Albinism is a genetic disorder that results in decreased production of a pigment called melanin in the skin, hair, and eyes, resulting in light color or no color. Jasmine (Iyana Lashea) is also legally blind and desires to be like “normal” teens, despite challenges that often hinder her. Above all, Jasmine has a dream of becoming a model. She reads, practices, and emulates all the information she has gathered through media outlets, and is determined to be successful at it, no matter what the odds are.

Lashea immediately captures the viewers’ attention and illuminates the screen. Her character struggles to overcome physical and emotional challenges and inherent biases in several communities and on several different levels. Lashea makes Jasmine an extremely likable protagonist, playing the role with quiet dignity and humility.

Shá Cage and Kevin West as Jasmine’s mother and father, respectively, excellently portray the concerned, middle-class, black parents. Jasmine’s mother appears overprotective and hovers, yet she also encourages Jasmine to chase her dream and wholeheartedly supports her. Jasmine is a Star shows how the mom is torn between protecting her child and letting her follow her dreams. However, she does not want to keep Jasmine’s challenges from allowing her to realize her potential. 


“…a teen living with Albinism…has a dream of becoming a model.”

The role of Jasmine’s father is that of a vigilant protector. However, while encouraging Jasmine to follow her aspirations, he may inevitably be hampering his daughter’s potential. Jasmine’s father protests her participation in a photo shoot and claims that the agency is exploiting her condition to sell magazines. The viewer is left to ponder whether Jasmine is being exploited or is it her father being overprotective when the agency terminates Jasmine’s contract as a result of his protest.

Jasmine is a Star is never preachy or didactic and is filmed using a documentary-like realism that lets Jasmine’s story unfold naturally. I really admired the way Rochelle did not create a heavy-handed diatribe. Rather, the filmmaker uses the medium to enlighten, illuminate, and open the viewers’ minds by raising issues about individuality, identity, race, bias, and the nature of beauty.  

The main problem is that the film is only 57 minutes long and attempts to tackle too many issues in too limited time. While raising many important issues, it may leave viewers somewhat bewildered. Despite not being explicitly a “message film,” the overall point is easy to misconstrue. Is the idea of the film to go for your dream, or is it about self-acceptance? Or is it simply a snapshot of a person living with a physical condition? It is also not apparent to the viewer whether Jasmine ever succeeds as a model, as the film abruptly ends with confusing glamour photos.

Overall, due to its limited runtime and the complex issues addressed, the film falters. Still, Jasmine is a Star ultimately succeeds in providing a glimpse into what may be the otherwise misunderstood topic of Albinism. The film is enlightening but buckles under the weight of its ambition.

Jasmine is a Star (2022)

Directed and Written: Jo Rochelle

Starring: Iyana Lashea, Shá Cage, Kevin West, etc.

Movie score: 7/10

Jasmine is a Star Image

"…a glimpse into what may be the otherwise misunderstood topic..."

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