For the past several years, filmmakers have documented the struggles and triumphs of Byron Breeze, Jr., “Soulja” and how he has turned a street corner into a life-saving and life-affirming practice, where going to "The Office" daily has allowed him to realize his dreams.

Born without legs or hands, Soulja moved to New York City from Washington, D.C. to create a better life. With meager disability payments, Soulja had to look for other alternatives to survive. This act of survival turned into an unexpected journey of discovering that big dreams are possible. One of his dreams has been uniting The Urban Casualties, a group of hip-hop artists who met in D.C. not long after three of them ended up paralized and in wheelchairs. Their love of music and the need to find an outlet to tell their stories brought Soulja and The Urban Casualties together.

With characteristic drive and entrepreneurial spirit, Soulja used 60th Street and Madison Avenue in mid-town Manhattan to earn money for recording their music and to make important connections.

The filmmakers have followed Soulja as he’s pursued every lead, including a meeting with Tony Robbins, who has promised to introduce him to music producer Quincy Jones.


Kathleen Kiley, Director, Co-producer

Kathleen Kiley has been a journalist for nearly 20 years; for the past 10 years she had been following Byron “Soulja” Breeze Jr.’s story.

She met Soulja while studying new media at New York University’s ITP graduate program, a nationally recognized incubator for digital media, multimedia and telecommunications. Inspired by (ITP Chair) Red Burns’ innovate approach to using technology, Kathleen decided to tell Soulja’s story with the new story-telling techniques she was learning.

Until then, Kathleen’s background was in print journalism. She has written on a variety of topics, from Botox parties for The New York Times to the street food wars in Connecticut for National Public Radio (NPR). This is her first documentary. She wrote the screenplay for the feature film Isn’t It Delicious, produced and directed by Michael Patrick Kelly.

Michael Patrick Kelly, Producer

Michael Patrick Kelly is founder of Aquapio Films Ltd. He is the director and producer of the feature film Isn’t It Delicious, staring Kathleen Chalfant, Keir Dullea and Alice Ripley, currently in the process of distribution. Isn’t It Delicious has won several film festival awards.

His other work includes the documentary film “Operation Lysistrata,” which captures the drama leading up to the imminent preemptive war on Iraq and provides an intimate behind-the-scenes look at how two women transform their individual aspirations for peace into a global movement. He recently completed a documentary about the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the economic aftermath for German TV called “Behind the Wall.”

His short films, “The Payoff” and “Only Joking” were Official Selections at the Los Angeles International Short Film Festival, as well as the Coney Island Film Festival. Only Joking was a finalist at the Peach City Short Film Festival, and winner of the Dragon*Con Comedy Film Festival.

Michel Negroponte, Editorial consultant

Michel Negroponte is an Emmy award-winning filmmaker with such directing credits as "Space Coast," "Silver Valley," "Jupiter's Wife", "No Accident," "W.I.S.O.R." and "The Sightseer".  His last feature length documentary, "Methadonia", premiered at the New York Film Festival in 2005 and aired on HBO.

In 1995, "Jupiter's Wife" was awarded a Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival and the Grand Prize for Best Feature Documentary at the Vancouver Film Festival and the Santa Barbara Film Festival. The film was also awarded an Emmy for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Documentary. Originally shot on small format video, it premiered on HBO/Cinemax before getting a nationwide 35 mm theatrical release.

He has worked in a producing capacity on films including  "Bookwars" by Jason Rosette, "Fastpitch" by Jeremy Spear, the Academy Award-nominated "Children Underground" by Edet Belzberg, and "Manhattan, Kansas" by Tara Wray.  In 2007, he produced "Orthodox Stance", a feature documentary directed by Jason Hutt about a young religious boxer named Dmitry Salita.

Michel Negroponte has also taught in the graduate and undergraduate film programs at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts and at Temple University.  He also helped to create the new graduate program in documentary filmmaking at the School of Visual Arts in NYC where he is also a faculty member. His current film, "I'm Dangerous with Love" premiered at Sheffield Doc/Fest in Sheffield, England in November 2009, and won a Special Mention from the International Jury and was selected as one the "Best of the Fest".

Barbara Bryce Morris, Producer

Barbara Bryce Morris is a former film scholar whose work has been awarded a Fulbright fellowship and grants from the governments of Spain and Argentina. She is the co-founder of an MFA writing program at Parsons the New School for Design, where she works with digital designers, game designers, and filmmakers.

She is Associate Producer of “Finding the First Song,” a documentary film in pre-production. She has been involved as one of the producers of the Soulja project since first meeting him on the street in 2001.



Subway Weekend Work Compounds Challenges for Riders with Mobility Issues

PIX 11

Getting around the subway beginning this weekend is going to be a headache. Scheduled service on multiple lines will be rerouting trains causing stress for commuters. Sixteen subway lines are slated for service changes this weekend. Read more.

The Corner Office

Public Books

At the corner of 60th and Madison, high-end retail logos create an upscale fantasia: DKNY, Calvin Klein, and Bally. Byron Breeze, Jr., also known as “Soulja,” has made this corner the “office” where he does most of his deal-making, ranging from finding a new musician to represent to pulling together a speaking gig. Read more.

Heartless Thugs Rob Wheelchair Guy

New York Post

A wheelchair-bound panhandler who once competed in the New York City Triathlon was robbed of valuables by armed bandits who broke into his Bronx apartment. Read more.

Graduating From the Hood

Washington Post

During his senior year at Northwestern High School, with only four credits left until he could graduate, William Smith dropped out of school. Several weeks later, he was violently attacked and left permanently debilitated. Read more.

When Panhandlers Need a Wordsmith’s Touch

The New York Times

Writer Gay Talese talks to people who need to make extra money on the street in mid-town Manhattan. He talks about the bank bailouts and asks how the economy is affecting their business. Has their been any “trickle down” from the stimulus plan? Read more.

Talese’s ‘Novel’ Pitch for the Poor

New York Post

Legendary author Gay Talese has begun his own campaign to help the poor benefit from President Obama’s stimulus plan. He’s handing out signs to the homeless and needy that, referring to the stimulus, urge East Siders to share their wealth. Read more.

When Life Is a Triathlon, Another Test Is No Problem

The New York Times

It is almost 3 a.m. The humidity has awakened Byron Breeze a few minutes before the alarm clock has rung in his Bronx apartment. He stays awake anyway, and starts his daily exercise routine of 100 sit-ups and 100 dips. Read more.

Thanks to Our Supporters

Armidco, Anonymous, Celia Felsher, SusanLaubach1, neensi, dapascale, jml, jcolingreene, mkahane1990, rodney461, lblasor, morrisb, Margaret and Lisa, seawink, Judith Rosenblatt, lynnebloc, Rusty Wilson, John Martin, marivaiss, larissapickens


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© 2014 Kathleen Kiley | Site by Larissa Pickens