This may come as a bit of a surprise, but this past week was actually really hard on me.
The Webby Awards.
It is strange how something so distant, just another website on a computer screen, can quickly turn into something involving itself in every aspect of my life.
Last week, the Webby’s got involved in my family, in my art, and in my personal well-being. It took me for a loop into a world that I had never really desired to enter, but soon found myself completely wrapped up in.
The film industry.
As I looked around at the hundreds of influential artists filling the banquet hall, I couldn’t help but be filled with two feelings at the exact same time.
Bewilderment - that someone like me, that a family like mine, was about to partake in an event as immaculate as The Webby Awards. An event that would take my farmer of a father and put him on a red carpet. An event that would allow my mother, who always dreamed of becoming an actress, a chance to finally dress the part. An event that would bring my elder sister and I to a city we only dreamed about coming to as children.
Well, we didn’t have to just dream about it anymore. No, in fact, we were standing in the Cipriani Wall Street - a building whose pillars stretched almost as far to the sky as those dreams we had as children.
I couldn’t believe it was all happening to us. I couldn’t believe it was all happening to me.
Confusion - It was all happening to me. This was never the reason I got into filmmaking. In fact, red carpets and premieres were never in the cards for this humanitarian documentary filmmaker. My goal was always to work with communities around the globe, not find myself back in the States walking between star-studded cocktail hours and after parties.
Standing there, amidst the plethora of fancy cutlery (which I could not figure out the use of) and mountains of booze, I found myself feeling very distant, very foreign. Some may call it the “imposter syndrome” but I don’t think that quite identifies what I was feeling.
I wasn’t feeling as though the work I had done was insufficiently deserving of this award. No, I was suddenly worried that the message of my work was being confused for something that I didn’t want it to be - my work, my voice.
I started this company so that those who we might not otherwise hear could find a platform from which to project their voice.
In a sense, I would say we accomplished that goal this past week. We were able to get Migwani, Kenya in front of the eyes of thousands. In front of the eyes of leaders of companies in the likes of Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and more. And isn’t that something worth celebrating?
But it isn’t something I want to celebrate at an event with a bunch of people who either won an award or paid upwards of $500 to attend.
No, I want to celebrate with Migwani. I want to celebrate with Ngonza, with Mutei, with Eunice, Naomi, Irene, Jane, Janet, Muvana, Loise, Nah, Annah, Nzambi, Muthili, Makaa, Muli, Mwende, Nzyuko, Kanlinga, Kasiva, Kalunda, Mutei.
But the reality of the situation this past week was that I couldn’t. I had to represent a community of which I am not a part. I had to walk a red carpet that I did not deserve on my own.
I want to be honest in this post when I say that I am growing as a creative.
I am growing as a humanitarian filmmaker.
We are growing as a company.
And that means we are still figuring things out with what all this entails.
Last week was one of the greatest of my career as a filmmaker. But I don’t want to stop with this award, with this accomplishment and say, “Look, we did it. We figured it out.”
No, what I do want this award to say, if it must say something about the work we are doing here at Circle3Productions, is “Look! We struck a chord! We scratched the surface of a type of filmmaking that people need to see - a new way of documenting communities around the world. But we are just getting started. We have so much learning to do. Here is the direction, now let’s run with it.”
There are many things the Webby's did for me this past Monday. Many firsts that I will remember for the rest of my life. But what it really boils down to for me is that this event helped me to clarify even more so my vision for this company, for the communities with which we work.
I can assure you that one day, very soon, I will look back on this post and think, “Wow. You had so much to learn.”
And I am excited for that moment.
I am excited to one day be able to fully celebrate both at an award show and with a community.
May this Webby push me to continue learning, continue growing, continue reaching out.
May it help us as a company to continue researching, continue connecting, and continuing making content WITH rather than just IN communities.
This past week was hard on me. Yet I am okay with that.
It was refining me. It was refining Circle3Productions.