“I never would’ve thought I would get shot.”
The statement is a recurring one in the latest episode of MTV’s True Life: I’ve Been Shot, which focuses on two aspiring black artists trying to navigate the world after being shot.
The stories of Maggie Heckstall and Jamarrius Kelly are intertwined: two 26 year olds from New Jersey and Tennessee, respectively, who try to overcome the mental and physical trauma they’ve endured at the hands of gun violence.
Maggie’s incident just so happens to be a part of the controversial shooting that occurred at New York City’s Irving Plaza six months ago. The venue was hosting a T.I. concert when New York rapper Troy Ave opened fire in a VIP green room of Irving Plaza, while fellow rappers Maino and Uncle Murda opened for the show.
Ultimately, the incident left one person dead and four people injured — Maggie was one of them, having gotten shot in the leg.
The shooting speaks to an ongoing epidemic in America which is gun violence. Aside from the Irving Plaza incident there was also the Pulse nightclub shooting that happened in Florida earlier this year. The shooting, described as the deadliest mass shooting in United States history, has brought back gun violence into the national discussion, with little to no progress.
Although the main argument presented in these instances is an increase in security in those spaces, what also needs to be addressed is the lack of gun regulation in America. Policing our spaces can be problematic, but really also undermines the problems of gun control.
Maggie could’ve been anyone and her story is indicative of this ongoing issue.
“Now I feel vulnerable in certain situations I normally wouldn’t be,” Maggie said. “This was a concert, a place where you normally shouldn’t be worried about. Now I don’t feel comfortable — I pay more attention to my surroundings now.”
That awareness also comes in the way in which she comments on the incident, wishing that venues did more to insure the safety of its guests.
“Additional security can mean a number of things: not just additional bodyguards but metal detectors and better security procedures that should be used,” Maggie said. “This stuff is happening and these places need to be mindful of that. These are people’s lives and it could happen to anybody.”
The episode also speaks to Maggie’s trauma as she remains bedridden for quite some time following the shooting, discouraged to work on her music or engage in daily activities.
Fortunately, after going to therapy as well as seeing her leg heal over time Maggie began to write music again, using her trauma as inspiration for her artistry.
“I’m more comfortable writing about having fun and how good life is,” Maggie said. “But channeling what I experienced from this into my music was new for me.”
Now, Maggie is at 80 percent. She celebrated her recovery by spray painting her crutch gold, transforming this symbol of hurt and pain into perseverance and accomplishment.
“I still have scars and am still affected by this, but I have to be brave,” Maggie said. “I’m alive and I’m blessed to still be breathing.”
Watch the full episode here.