Cabrini Green Gets the Spotlight in ‘We Grown Now’

A TSL Review

If you’re from Chicago (and even if you aren’t), watch this movie.

“We Grown Now,” written and directed by Minhal Baig, gives a glimpse into the life of those living in the Cabrini-Green housing projects, specifically the children present during the 1990s.

Starring Blake Cameron James as Malik and Gian Knight Ramirez as Eric, the best friends lived with their single parents in the Cabrini-Green housing development. Malik, who lived with his mom, grandmother and little sister, was full of dreams and ambitions. Though he was born in Cabrini-Green and it was all he knew, he understood that there was a bigger world out there than where he was currently. His best friend, Malik, however, didn’t have the same capacity to dream, and let the things around him dictate that he was meant to be where he was and couldn’t see the big dreams that Malik had.

Actors Gian Knight Ramirez and Blake Cameron James as best friends Eric and Malik in We Grown Now.

My favorite part of the movie is the fact that these kids acted like kids as much as possible. While making the best of any situation they faced, the boys jumped on mattresses in the middle of the courtyard, and siblings teased one another but showed each other love. Overall the children of the community were close and a unit. In Chicago, children are often forced to grow up too fast and deal with issues they aren’t equipped to handle at their age, much like the main characters in this movie.

Malik wanted to move into a large house with multiple stories, have his own room and a garden for his mom to grow things. Eric couldn’t see past where he was and questioned Malik for his ways of thinking and dreaming.

In a way, Malik was held back by Eric who couldn’t see beyond his current circumstance. Malik wanted to break free from the negative things that came with living in the projects while Eric was comfortable and content where he was.

I appreciated how despite the circumstances the boys were faced with, they didn’t allow themselves to be defined by them. They were allowed to dream and think bigger than where they were.

People should see this movie because it humanizes people living in the projects in addition to going against stereotypes of the people housed there.

I rate this movie a solid 10 out of 10. It was a good watch and really touched me. The power of dreams and friendship are both strong in this film. It was interesting to see through the eyes of youth.

We Grown Now, which also stars Journey Smollett, S. Epatha Merkerson, and Lil Rel Howery is a must-see! I definitely recommend checking out this movie  if you’ve ever wondered about an important part of Chicago history.

The movie has already won major awards including one from the Pan African Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival. It is currently available for viewing in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles and will be in theaters nationwide on April 26.

If you go see this movie, let us know what you think!


By Cierra Lemott, Columbia College Chicago alumni

Instagram: @cece.kodak / @kodakscamera

X: @LemottCierra


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Written by Cierra Lemott

I'm a professional procrastinator and my hobbies include sleeping, eating, and Netflix binging.

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