I was pressed for time and running through the dimly lit quad at Loyola University. Out of breath and time, I rushed into a tucked-away theater in the student center. I quietly took a seat in the back of the theater and was immediately intrigued by the first question I heard posed to the panelists.
“Do you get scared on this journey?” said moderator N.K. Gutierrez to the all-female and filmmaker panel. “ Are there days when you feel defeated?”
All four of the women on the panel laughed and said yes! I had never felt so seen.
I am often way too hard on myself. I do 50 things at once and scold myself when I drop the ball on one of them.
I went to this event to learn and network. I never thought I’d leave feeling more connected to myself and my passion. As a black woman in the creative industry, I am often way too hard on myself. I do 50 things at once and scold myself when I drop the ball on one of them. There are moments when I feel completely defeated and exhausted. It was nice to know I wasn’t alone in that.
A night for women in film, the International Screenwriters Association Chicago chapter relaunched. They kicked off Women’s History Month by hosting a “Women in Screenwriting” panel. N.K. Gutierrez, actress and writer, was the moderator. And the panel consisted of writer/director Lauryn Lugo, You Matter Studios CEO and founder Jewel Ifeguni, and film producer Angie Gaffney.
Qualified in their own rights, everyone woman on the panel was well versed in the creative industry. Each loves what they do for a living while also admitting to the challenges that come along with being a creative, a woman, and a leader in this industry.
They do what they do not only because they love it, but because it’s their calling.
“I think it’s just the urge to write, to tell stories,” said Lauryn Lugo when asked what keeps her moving forward. “I feel like that’s the thing that keeps me going is knowing I have a story in my head, and I have to get it down.”
For Jewel, it was the power of content. “The thing that keeps me going is the why,” said Ifeguni. “I want my content to shift mindsets.”
That was the moment I knew I was in the right place. Not because filmmakers and creatives surrounded me, not because they were all women- but because of their “why”.
Growing up, I often let the fear of failure and embarrassment stop me from going after my dreams.
My “why” is similar to these two women. I write and produce to share different perspectives, to gift people with the opportunity to think differently about a topic– to feel differently about a topic. Like Lugo, my desire to tell stories and create content is also an urge. I feel like I have to do it. I have to get my ideas out. I have to grab that pen and paper and write the short story. As I’ve gotten older, I listen to my creative urges and instinct and feed them. I wasn’t always like this.
Growing up, I often let the fear of failure and embarrassment stop me from going after my dreams. I didn’t want people to make fun of my work. I didn’t want to create a film and get no likes or interactions on it. And then one day, I just decided to do it scared. To get out of my head, breathe, and turn my daydreams into concrete projects.
Film producer Angie Gaffney shared a similar sentiment. “Waiting for fear to go away is a dark tunnel,” said Gaffney. She urged everyone in the audience to go after their dreams, create that film and write that script even if they were scared.
As I continue to grow into an adult, I always remind myself to invite in creative challenges, go after my dreams, focus and grind, embrace fear, and always keep moving forward. This event was an excellent reminder to keep going after my “why”… and to do it scared.
Click here to check out more stories in our Growing Up issue.