Winning the Directors Guild of America award

Once I got into my car and sat in the driver's seat, I stared at my award - now in its box lying next to the flower my mom gave me. It was at that moment that I realized "this is so much bigger than me."

The award in the passenger's seat.

DGA = Directors Guild of America (Steven Spielberg is a member...)

I received a DGA award in the Woman's category for my short film "Friday Night Fright." Check out the trailer here. It was a Minority and Women Student Film competition. Here are past winners.

The Ceremony
= Cocktails

I arrived at 6:30pm on the dot for the cocktails portion of the ceremony. I had one sip of beer and that was all I could do - I was not about to drink before an event like this. I also had the fear of "spinach dangling from my teeth," so I barely ate.

We all took photos prior to entering the auditorium. The USC Cinema School was highly represented at the evening's ceremony. Two winners and one Jury winner came from the Trojans. Fight on!


Dipesh Jain (Jury Award Winner in the Asian American category), me (winner in Women Category), and Ryan Coogler (Winner in African American category). All colleagues of mine at the USC School of Cinematic Arts.

Me and my favorite Production Assistant, Rusty Beaman. We first met on "Friday Night Fright," and I've forced him to come to every set of mine since!

Mary Lou Belli, middle, presented me and Amy Adrion our awards for the Women's Category. Amy was the runner up by 1 point! We slapped a serious high-five at our accomplishment. AND Why did they decide to use the photo where I'm flipping my head back? What was I doing??

Carolyn Corbett, my trio member in 508 for "Friday Night Fright." She was the producer, sound recordist and editor. So, yes, she was invested in the project! Read about the making of the film here.

Erika Rankin, the star of "FNF," Carolyn Corbett, me, and Rusty Beaman. It's amazing how we are still celebrating this film one year later!

The Ceremony = The Presentations

At this point, I was well aware that I would actually have to get on stage for a "thank you" speech. This was not brought to our attention prior to the event, so I spent the first hour of the ceremony thinking of what I was going to say!

We watched one-minute clips from the Runner-Up's films. Then we watched the Asian American category winner's film and his speech. Then the Latin American category and his speech.

Now it was my turn. I had seen "Friday Night Fright" MANY times, but I was still so incredibly nervous!

After it screened, Gene Reynolds went onto the stage and said, "50 years ago, a woman could not yell 'action.'" I matured a little in hearing that statement. I do question that statement because my mentor, Joan Darling, was certainly yelling action 50 years ago!! It does get you thinking, though, about where we really are in our journey to become equal parts in this industry.

Then they announced Mary Lou Belli, the Woman's Category presenter. She is a well known director among television, including "Sister, Sister." -- ROGER!!!!--

She gave me the award and scholarship check, and it was time for my "thank you" speech.

Do you see the pretty piece of glass that says "Director's Guild of America?"

Saying "hi mom!" My mom couldn't attend the event, so I said hi to her through the video camera. I think at least one person is required to say that at every awards ceremony... She did have my cousin bring me a flower and say it's from her!

With Gene Reynolds. He said my movie was so scary that it turned his hair gray. He also knew my directing mentor, Joan Darling. He called her Little Joni! They worked on MASH together.

The podium, my award, and me! This is around the point in the night when I realized I did not want to let go of that award.

Trying to sneak my award into the group photo. Dipesh was too tall!!

The group photo -- expect it in DGA Newsletters near you!


With some Twilight Zone fans -- Once they heard "Friday Night Fright" was inspired by The Twilight Zone, they had to come and see it! The event was actually open to the DGA members and this woman was a part of the DGA Women's Steering Committee. She told me they discussed "Friday Night Fright" at the meeting the night before...cool!

The Speech
I began the speech with a "funny story." I wrote "Friday Night Fright" after watching "True Lies" with friends. We all yelled at Arnold, and I thought "What if Arnold yelled back?" That got a bit of a laugh. Then I went on to speak on the support of the DGA and the support of my cast and crew. I ended with "Wow...DGA...Cool!" and a big smile! Everyone laughed - I think they knew exactly how I felt.
So Much Bigger Than Me

Which brings me to my original statement -- how this whole ceremony was so much bigger than me.

In the weeks prior to the event, I received mixed responses to the award. "Oh...you got it because you're a woman?" "Why aren't there white male awards?" And all I could think was "Give it back!!" Give me back my award! Don't take it away from me by belittling its meaning!

Sitting in that auditorium, receiving congratulations from women who pioneered their own way in this industry, just blew me away. I can't describe it. I had their support. Support of my peers, my future colleagues.

I say "this is so much bigger than me" because while I may feel down when someone says "oh...you got it because you're a woman," other women are proud of me and pick me up. Women I don't even know. We protect each other. They gave me this award to encourage me, inspire me. It's now my turn to take that support and run with it. Women need other women as role models.

In my application for the DGA award, I mentioned how little role models there are for women in this industry, especially the comedy and thriller genres, and if I could inspire one woman to become a filmmaker -- to not be afraid -- then I've done my job.


1 Response

  1. Congrats on the achievement! As a guy who went through a film program also, I can understand the value of having other women as role models in this field. Females were greatly outnumbered by men in all my classes, but depending on how you look at it that could put your perspective at a strength. Support is great inspiration.

    Congrats again!