WOMANISM 1.4 MYRNA PEREZ
About two years ago, we were asked to be one of the subjects in a Latinx video series called Within Reach by media platform, BESE. On that incredibly magical, full-Latina-crew shoot-day, we had the pleasure of getting to know Myrna Perez – an LA based, Miami raised filmmaker whose work oozes with compassion and has the vibrant vibe of your favorite Celia Cruz song! Most recently, we harassed and talked Myrna into letting us ask her a few questions about her life and latests projects, some of which were just displayed in last week's Supreme Court hearings on DACA with United We Dream. In 2019, many of us wonder how we could possibly make a meaningful contribution to a world that is seemingly on fire (oof – so many connotations). We're feeling quite invigorated by Myrna's path and the voices she's choosing to amplify at this point in time. Jumping back into Womanism with her felt so right and frankly, another excuse to spend more time with dope women. So, without further ado...Womanism 1.4 featuring Myrna Perez.
Q + A
Tell us a little about yourself and what you consider your profession to be.
I'm a Colombian born, Miami raised, LA based filmmaker. In the broadest terms, I'm a storyteller. My background is in conflict/crisis video reporting, but I’ve made my way through documentaries over the past 5+ years and now slowly moving through the world of narrative and fiction. I like to see myself as a vessel that brings these stories to fruition.
How has your upbringing / being a Latina woman influenced your work (if you feel it has)?
I actually grew up in a Latin-Jewish community which is an interesting and rich experience. My ancestors fled both Poland during WWII and Jerusalem around the same time due to persecution. With my father as one of the casualties of the Colombian civil war, my mom and I left my home country during its most violent period for similar reasons. I come from a long lineage of nomads who have had to flee countries due to their identities, beliefs and ideas. While we (arguably) live in a more free society now, I feel a strong connection with those who came before me and definitely try to channel that when deciding what projects I work on and stories I’m telling. I’m frequently moved to tell stories of underrepresented communities — whether it be as a director with BESE, creative directing a series with United We Dream or being on the front lines of political crises while at Fusion.
But as the world gets weirder and more complex, I've found it liberating to construct parallel worlds in my head that show us not what is but what could be. I’m currently in development for an experimental film about the psychology behind early childhood and parental separation, seen through the perspective of a fish bone. The film is a tribute to my late father, my experience as a kid in Colombia and the children the US has displaced.
Have you encountered challenges in your career that you think your male counterparts have not?
Oh, absolutely! Pay inequality has been something I’ve frequently encountered. Of course we all know women make $.79 to the male $1.00, but Latinas make $.53 to the dollar. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been on set, in casual conversation with a dude who had my same role and realized he was making way more than I was. But honestly that’s also what’s driven me to become pretty bullish when it comes to negotiating. I always go way higher than what I actually expect and we usually settle on a number that works for me.
What has been your personal favorite project to date?
Probably the project I just delivered — a 9-part series highlighting different DACA recipients for United We Dream, an immigration reform non profit. The videos were featured within the Supreme Court amicus brief for the case on DACA, happening on Nov. 12. I executive produced, creative directed the series and directed most episodes. It was a highly ambitious project, but it felt like the right thing to take on given the stakes at hand. The people who helped on the project and the people featured are seriously some of the strongest, hard working and genuine folks I’ve ever met. It also was surreal to see my work linked within an official US court document that will likely outlive me.
You have one of the most vibrant personalities EVER! What do you to stay positive in today's socio-political climate and how are you taking care of yourself?
You can follow Myrna on instagram @myrnanananana