On May 28th 2014, Meridian Hill Pictures intern and student film director Leah Edwards gave a talk at TEDxYouth@ColumbiaHeights entitled “Storytelling Superheroes: We Are Our Stories.” Below is a version of the speech edited for our blog.
By Leah Edwards
Not too long ago, I declared a new life mission: being a voice for the voiceless and the underprivileged, particularly for young people. I found that youth voices are largely underrepresented in media. Youth can’t vote and adults often speak for you.
I never realized that media could empower and improve the lives of young adults in DC. I learned this over the past year through an opportunity to collaborate with Meridian Hill Pictures and The Sitar Arts Center to create a documentary film.
I remember coming into the class at Sitar and not liking documentaries at all. A childhood dream of mine was to make films and star in them; I wanted to be a superhero. At the time, I wanted to make movies with explosions and things blowing up - you know, Hollywood stuff.
Then it occurred to me that, in a way, by not caring about documentaries or the stories they told, I also wasn’t caring about my community. So I went along with the Sitar class, thinking, “What have I got to lose?”
The result was Doing It for Me:
Through watching Precious, my co-director on Doing It for Me, reach out to her friends Jessica and Victoria, who had dropped out of high school, and inspire them to pursue their education, I witnessed firsthand how filmmaking can empower lives. Jessica and Victoria’s stories are a reminder of film’s capacity to amplify underrepresented voices and challenge stigmas.
So here’s my message to young filmmakers and change makers:
Share your story. With more access to media and technology than ever before, we as young people have the power to shape our world. You don’t need a superhero cape or a Hollywood budget to create change. Give the world your voice.