'There is no barrier to what you can do': How Andria Wilson is empowering queer creators
The film festival executive has found her place by helping other queer artists find theirs
When Andria Wilson isn't busy running a film festival, she's...well, we're not sure really because she's kind of always running a film festival.
In early June, on the heels of the closing gala for Inside Out — where Andria holds the position of executive director — she flew out to Halifax to work the OUTeast Film Festival, a festival she co-founded with Jenna Dufton and Krista Davis that happens to be Atlantic Canada's only exclusive presenter of queer content. It's the crazy 24/7 schedule of not just an ambitious woman but one of the talented few who have succeeded in marrying their passion, career and values. And she does so with great sincerity and dedication. In this Queer (Self) Portrait video, Andria speaks to the personal and professional journey she went through to get to where she is now and how her queer identity played a role in carving that path.
Driven by a profound belief in the power of storytelling to change attitudes and even lives, Andria tells me the most important and rewarding aspect of her work is showcasing content that represents the lives of people under-represented in mainstream media — not always an easy task. Despite an unprecedented amount of queer content being created these days, there are still bodies and experiences that are under-represented, misrepresented or flattened into heteronormative tropes. This is especially the case, Andria mentions, for trans and non-binary characters and experiences in media: "It sometimes feels like trans representation in media today is where gay folks were 25 years ago. It's important to celebrate how far we've come but also to call out where work still needs to be done."
We need people to know that we see you, we hear you and your story deserves to be told.- Andria Wilson, film festival executive
Aside from the awesome work she's doing, I approached Andria to be in this series because Inside Out holds a dear place in my heart and career. In 2007, I participated in the Queer Youth Digital Video Project — a filmmaking mentorship program created back when it felt apropos to use terms like "digital video" to describe filmmaking...or, for that matter, the term "youth" to describe me. I credit this program with giving me the confidence to continue making films generally and queer films specifically. And without platforms like Inside Out or OUTeast, the queer content that I and others make would be hard pressed to connect with the communities and audiences for whom we make this work.
So, in a series celebrating artists like Queer (Self) Portraits, it felt necessary to celebrate the art of producing, supporting, connecting and empowering artists — something that Andria has been doing for over 15 years.
Queer (Self) Portraits was born out of director Gabrielle Zilkha's participation in this year's 10X10 Photography Project. 10X10 is an annual art exhibit and book curated by James Fowler and produced each year to mark Pride Month. Each year, ten queer and trans photographers are selected to take portraits of ten queer and trans people whom they wish to celebrate for their contributions to the arts. Watch the full series here!