Actress Karidja Touré stars in The Adventures of Selika. The upcoming short film tells the story of Selika Lazevski, a black female equestrian from France who worked during the the late 19th century.
The Adventures of Selika is written and directed by filmmaker Sybil H. Mair. Mair previously directed the short film The Equestrian, a dark psychological drama centered on a young, ambitious dressage rider in a complicated relationship. The project marks Touré’s first major project since her her breakout role in the indie feature Girlhood. Mair recently shared a few behind-the-scenes images of Touré, and her co-stars. The Adventures of Selika also stars Filippo Scarafia, Krystian Godlewski, Jennifer Daley and Luke Elliott.
Back in 2012, a portrait of Lazevski in traditional equestrian dress went viral. The image, which was released by the French Ministère de la Culture, was taken in 1891 by renowned photographer Félix Nadar. Nadar identified the subject of his portrait as Selika Lazevski, a French equestrian, but little is known about Lazevski. Over the years, many historians have worked to verify the picture and to learn more about her life.
According to Black Female Equestrian,
Selika Lazevski was an écuyère (horsewoman) who performed high level dressage. The écuyères rode side saddle in circuses and hippodromes, and were widely respected for their skills as horsewomen.
Author and equestrian Susanna Forrest also shared some details on the origin of Lazevski’s name back when the images of her first began to spread.
Sélika is the name of the heroine of Giacomo Meyerbeer’s 1865 opera, L’Africaine, and was adopted as a stage name by the first black woman to sing at the White House, the coloratura soprano Madame Marie Selika Williams. The opera was hugely popular among African Americans, and Selika became a fashionable name. Popular among horse owners too: a filly called Selika won the Kentucky Oaks in 1894.
The Adventures of Selika will be released on April 16.