We did a lot of camping when I was growing up — most of it inside the condemned houses my hippie-ski-bum parents were working to restore. As they tried to establish themselves as custom home builders, my parents chose freedom over security every time. To them, spending the winter snowbound in a leaking trailer with me and my two siblings was better than working in a fluorescent lit cubicle.
My life has been shaped by people like them that bucked society’s expectations and chose their own path. This is why I am consistently drawn to the lives and stories of outsider characters. My narrative and documentary work has focused on people going against the grain of mainstream American society — from the Paiute demolition derby drivers of Pyramid Lake, to the career prostitutes in Nevada’s brothels. It takes bravery, vision, and steely self-confidence to forge a new path that redefines the rules.
I’ve channeled the same grit and determination I witnessed growing up to pursue a career in filmmaking, a goal I’ve had since six-years-old when I discovered our family’s rickety VHS camcorder. After cutting my teeth as a local video journalist for NBC and ABC and independently producing, shooting and editing documentaries about the lasting consequences of war in Laos and Estonia as a Fulbright scholar, I enrolled in the Graduate Film program at Columbia University to study writing and directing. Graduate school expanded my skillset and allowed me to further delve into dynamics and challenges facing characters in the modern American West. My short film “Derby Kings,” (2012) about Native American demolition derby drivers, won the prestigious 2011 Princess Grace Graduate Film Scholarship and premiered at the 2013 Palm Springs Short Film Festival. After a successful festival run, “Derby Kings,” was acquired by the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian. “Veterans,” (2010) an unsentimental day in the life of a woman working as a career prostitute in a Nevada brothel, won the Adrienne Shelly Award for Best Female Director and screened internationally.
My documentary credits include MTV’s “Rebel Music: Native America,” (2014) executive produced by Shepard Fairey. The episode spotlights Native American musicians fighting for justice and became one of MTV’s most viewed online videos in its history. As a video producer for Fusion, AJ+ and NBC, I’ve continued to hone my story telling skills, helped expose justice department corruption in Louisiana and championed the bravery of Syrian refugees in Los Angeles. My latest short documentary tracks a central Nevada town that lost its only hospital.
“True Patriots,” my first feature narrative film, is the next big step in my progression as a filmmaker. After years of in-depth research, investigation, and exploration I have pushed myself to imagine a project that is both deeply personal and culturally relevant. I’m eager to strengthen the screenplay’s foundations and craft an emotionally resonant journey into the life of a blue-collar electrician who feels like she must topple society itself in order to achieve justice.