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A Message From VRT's Artistic Director, Eric Emma:
This last weekend I took part in panel at Nightmares Film Festival: Social Progress Through Horror. I have Bipolar 2 Disorder and I am a CODA (Child of Deaf Adults), along with running an audio theater, Venus Radio Theater, dedicated to championing diverse and emerging voices. I guess that makes me a good panelist…. The diversity topic always gets my anxiety up because I am always afraid of being a fraud especially when I meet folks who are doing amazing work (i.e. see Iyvon Edebiri and her work at The Parsnip Ship.)
I’m just out here working on projects that I love. Always, just trying to be better and open to as many folks as possible. I grew up in the smallest town in the smallest state in the country. The culture I grew up in was deeply ignorant and white. And yet, I came to NYC with an open mind and an open heart, and I was blessed to make friends that came from different places from me and had the patience/love to help me see different things and help me evolve my thinking. And as time went on, I continued to make more friends, read more on a variety of different topics related to diversity, and realize that one of my goals was that I want people who work with me to leave having a positive experience… And I want that to be ALL people. This is something I deeply believe and try to impart on others, particularly my white friends and colleagues, which is… We all have dreams of changing the world and being meaningful, but on a personal level… how do you embody diversity? When you look out at your social/professional life how are you empowering people that are different then you? Do you even have diverse friends? How are you taking part in this grand multi-cultural world we keep speaking so much about? You can’t fake authenticity. I can shout on the roof tops the person I think I am, but who you really are always comes through. When I start projects, I don’t sit their asking “Does this pass the Bechdel test?” “Are their enough bipocs in this cast”, etc. It is all a reflection of who I am for better or worse. And that’s the message I really want to impart on folks is… Are you putting in the work to be a better person so that this doesn’t feel like work. I am blessed to know a lot of wonderful creatives from a lot of different walks of life and I love creating with them and creating art that is true to us. And probably, more importantly, I do what I do, because I realize that my stories are not the most important, and there’s a lot of good in championing the voices of so many who are different than me . It was a real pleasure to be on stage because it gave me a real clarity moment as to why I do what I do and what I want to be doing… Live an authentic life and being constantly open to all people so that I’m not coming from an inauthentic place in the projects I either create or help with. So many thanks to Nightmares/Jason Tostevin for making that happen.
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