Khalil Coleman is a local author, educator and advocate for Milwaukee’s youth. (Photo courtesy Changing Lives Through Literature)

Over the past 12 years, Khalil Coleman’s story has evolved.

What started as a creative writing project later transformed into a novel. “Time & Place: The Life of B and K,” spoke from the youth’s perspective in inner city Milwaukee. The story followed two teens trying to define their identity while navigating life’s tumultuous twists and turns.

His self-published story also incorporated a curriculum that provided youth a community tool kit. He began contracting at local schools and youth agencies through his business, Changing Lives Through Literature.

After selling thousands of books and working with youth across Milwaukee, he released the follow-up, “Time and Place: Keylanda’s Story” in early 2019. The sequel followed Keylanda, a neighborhood girl who found her footing in activism after an officer involved shooting in the first novel.

Only several months after releasing the second installment, Express Yourself Milwaukee adapted the sequel into a four-act stage production for their “Kintsugi” event at the Miller High Life Theatre in May 2019.

Coleman said that after watching the story play out on stage, it was officially time to start working on a short film.

“A movie has been in the back of my mind for years,” Coleman said. “When I was talking to the young people in schools, they’d ask if I was going to make a movie. There was always general excitement surrounding the story, but seeing it come to life during the play ignited the urge to finally film the movie.”

Coleman said while financing and production were in the works, Express Yourself youth performers, Victor Barnett Jr. and Niya Winston, already signed on to reprise their roles as B and Keylanda.

Barnett Jr., also known as Hip-Hop artist, RB Vic, said the opportunity was an amazing opportunity to pursue an acting career while also delivering positive message to his community.

The Running Rebels have also signed on as “Human Resources” for the film. Their job will be to help pull community resources together to bring Coleman’s story to the big screen.

Victor Barnett Sr., Running Rebels founder and executive director, said the organization was extremely excited to have a hand in producing the film.

“Since I’ve known him (Coleman), he’s very dedicated to our community and our young people. He’s very relatable and relates to them well,” Barnett Sr. said. “We’re here to help him out in whatever way we can.”

Coleman said the movement has been a grassroots effort from the beginning. From the printing the first book to eventually working with youth at the Vel Phillp’s Juvenile Detention Center, he wanted to continue the same tradition for the film.

“I’m trying to get everybody involved. From the adults, youth, schools, programs, you name it,” Coleman said. “I want the film to incorporate all of those things.”

“I want to open it up to anybody who would like to see the story hit the screen. Anyone and anybody that wants to make the investment—I’m grateful.”

For more information on opportunities and donations visit: