This may come as a bit of a surprise, but this past week was actually really hard on me.

Offical Webby Headshot from Photoshoot.

Offical Webby Headshot from Photoshoot.

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.

Cipriani Wall Street (Interior) before the show.

Cipriani Wall Street (Interior) before the show.

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.

Cipriani Wall Street (Exterior) with Holly Starr.

Cipriani Wall Street (Exterior) with Holly Starr.

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.

Red Carpet press shoot before the show.

Red Carpet press shoot before the show.

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?


Being interviewed by the Webby’s podcast.

Being interviewed by the Webby’s podcast.

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.”

Our poster for “Our Children - Twana Twitu” on the big screen at the Webby’s.

Our poster for “Our Children - Twana Twitu” on the big screen at the Webby’s.

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.




To the 1 year old boy that dreamed,


You came into this world in the great upper left of a country whose lands are as diverse as its people. In a part of that country some would say was the last to be discovered on this planet - the great unknown.

But we know that couldn’t be true.

No. For there were others that graced these farmlands long before ‘ole Lewis & Clark ever made the journey out West.


Alas, you were born. And you were born to the hands of a farmer and a CPA. And you were born in the land of apples, (although onions would be the only smell that you called home). You were born to a town of migrants… people from lands you would only hope to one day discover. People who would teach you such beautiful tales of humanity, of difference, and of bravery.

Consider yourself Lucky, Lukey. (Your grandmother will never remember which is your real name).

One day you will realize that this ground - these fields where your life was planted - means something. And it means a great deal. For it is these very neighbors (or lack there of), these very dirt roads, and yes, even these very star-studded skies that you were born under that make up who you are… and that will bear forth a life and a story worth telling.

Take advantage of every second. Even the millions you will be spending on that bumpy tractor. That “normal” life, one day under a very different, distant lens… will become one of the most extraordinary experiences you will ever have.

You were born on a farm. That is a gift. Not a hindrance.

To the 16 year old kid that dreamed,


I know you must be incredibly frustrated. Frustrated that you are stuck in a town that seems to only know just within the barriers of its own limits, cornered by signs reading “Opportunities Unlimited.” If I had one thing I could tell you, it would be…

Believe it.

Believe that what you have there is all you need to have to get… here, there, anywhere.

It must have been only a few days ago that your parents told you that they didn’t think you should go on that exchange to another country in your 16th year of life - you had too many responsibilities to finish up with.

I know that might feel like a dead end… but trust me when I say that dead end is the first of many realizations that your timing, however honest, is usually not the best timing for you.

Keep discovering. Keep feeling. Keep trying. One day those borders are going to swing wide open.

It isn’t today.

But today prepares you for tomorrow. And you have much preparing to do.

To the 19 year old traveller that dreamed,

It is true. You have completely fallen for a country you never before had called home (and you FINALLY, by some miracle, were able to become an exchange student.) All your life you spent wondering what it would be like to live the reality of someone outside of your farm, your town, your country. What a crazy ride it has been.


It is also true the feelings you are having about non-profits. No, not every non-profit you are finding is doing sustainable good in Perú. In fact, you are going to grow a lot more disappointed as time passes… but with the disappointment will come vision. And with the vision comes dreams… and the dreams will lead you to realize that maybe film & photography - something so foreign to you at the time - might be an idea worth pursuing.

That maybe, just maybe there is a way to influence these organizations, these philanthropists.

You may not know how to get there, but if you trust those initial gut feelings that this is a space you are meant to speak into… it is going to take you on a wild ride.

But before going on that ride, drink another Inka Cola, give your host mom another hug, and relish in your final days living in your favorite country on earth.

They will end soon… but your passion for that land, that people never will.

To the 26 year old filmmaker that dreams,

I don’t think you ever thought you would be this old.


It’s a miracle that you are even alive after all that has gone on. Peru. Israel. Wisconsin. Los Angeles. UCLA. And finally, Circle3Productions.

Remember this moment.

Take a breath.

Remember all the breaths you took to get here and with whom you shared each of those spaces.

It’s been quite a long time since you spent your nights living under those starry skies back in “God’s country,” as grandpa calls it - 8 years to be exact.

You feel strange when you look at the parts of you that are no longer so soft around the edges. The parts that a city has roughened up. You look out a window into this “city of angels” as you edit the very films you shot around the world, and you wonder how this could be your life.

When did you become someone who lived in a city?

You spent the last 6 years of your life running down a road that you were unsure of where it would lead.

You had an idea in your head to help people, to run back the very stories of those rural desert dwellers you had learned of so many years ago. So you took up documentary filmmaking.

Somehow, in a strange way… you were able to use film to turn your love for people into a vocation, into a passion, into a way of life.

And I am so proud of you for that. (I don’t think you say this to yourself often enough.)

This month you found out one of your films was nominated for an award. That has never happened before. And oddly enough, it has caused you to rethink all those steps that got you to this point.

Each. Individual. Person.

But more importantly, the God that directed those steps before even that farmer and CPA welcomed you into their home and called you son.

Stick to your roots, son. In your roots lies your story, your power, your voice.

But as you grow, open up. Continue finding ways of connecting with those people whose realities are oh so different from yours… because they might not be as different as you would think.

This is still yet the beginning of the journey, and you have still yet so much to learn.

Happy reading, happy living, happy breathing, my friend.


To the old man that will dream,

You must have the most intricate stories of humanity to tell, and please, do tell.

Tell your children. Tell the world.

I hope you are still proud of the time you spent with a camera in your hand. I know your good posture might be running on empty, but surely your heart is full.

So here is to your first nomination for an award - The Webby Awards. Maybe there were many more, or maybe this was the only one.

Either way, I am proud of you, wherever you are. And you should be too.


The soul you have known your whole life. Inside that body. Inside that mind.