When thinking back on my childhood as a young girl born and raised in Saint Louis, Missouri, I am instantly reminded of the messages the women in my life instilled in me. My mother and grandmother put a lot of effort into teaching us important life lessons, such as looking beyond the surface in every situation for a deeper meaning. We were treated like kids, but they also wanted to give us an early sense of hearing or partaking in discussions about adult subject matter. While children my age were watching films like Chicken Run and Snow Day, my sisters, cousins, and I were watching Roots, Rabbit-Proof Fence, and Hotel Rwanda; movies that were geared toward a more mature audience. The deeper meaning and messages of these movies went way over my head at the time, and quite frankly, my eight-year-old self could have cared less. But as I’ve grown over the years, Rabbit-Proof Fence has always stuck with me and gave me a whole new perspective on film.
My eyes were glued to the screen as I watched three little girls, close to my age, being ripped from their mother’s arms and taken to a camp over two thousand miles away from home. I was moved when the girls escaped and traveled on foot all the way back home to their mother. My eight-year-old self sat on the couch for hours after the movie had ended researching any and everything I could learn about the true story, and this newly learned thing called filmmaking. Film was no longer something to watch just for entertainment or escapism, but a path to push the boundaries of the mind and how one looks at the world.
It opened my eyes to things I never thought about before and changed my relationship with film for the rest of my life. Now realizing this new avenue to growth and my own personal form of catharsis, I strived to create art that gave my viewers the same experience I had when watching Rabbit-Proof Fence for the first time. Deciding that I wanted to be a director at the age of eight years was definitely an ambitious goal and rare in my town, but it definitely didn’t stop me and I continue to live out my dream every day. My determined and focused soul, fueled by my long experience of being a student-athlete, gives me the drive to persevere through the long journeys filmmaking takes me on, and always reminds me to keep the deeper meaning at the forefront.
Photo by Besty Tan