Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. – Steve Jobs ( 1955-2011)
Summers spent in paradise along the Malibu coast have led me to find peace in calm ocean views, fond memories of growing up with friends, and inspiration from my peers. The company of strong-willed people who want to make a change in this world has had great influence on me.
I remember my aunt greeting me with open arms and the kindest smile as I would visit her in the accounting firm. The sounds of crunching numbers on the calculators, meetings being called, and phones ringing were replaced by the bustling walk through the Promenade or the Santa Monica Pier. Years go by and the once encumbered desks of acting books, audition techniques, and copies of Backstage West were replaced by sticky notes of ideas, screenplays, and camera equipment.
My aunt had left the accounting firm to pursue her passion of filmmaking. She fully immersed herself in filmmaking by getting involved in all aspects of the industry serving as producer, director, writer, editor, or actress. She dedicated years for one of her projects, a feature-length documentary,”Shunned“, which follows the lives of transgendered women in the Philippines. My aunt wanted to serve as a voice for the women she met and bring awareness to the obscurity they have faced and their fight for acceptance.
From the moment she woke up until the time she lays down, every moment was dedicated to this film. I remember watching her editing footage, going over the tiniest of details to ensure everything was perfect. When technology was not cooperating, I can feel her disbelief as she tries to continue working on the documentary no matter what setbacks the equipment will give. There were times I know she got overwhelmed and wanted to give up. However, she recalls the promises she made to her cast and wanting to be an advocate for the community. She kept going, working ceaselessly until it was finally finished.
“Shunned” went on to be screened at festivals around the world gaining critical acclaim. The documentary has won numerous awards including “Best Documentary” in Long Island International Film Expo (NY), “Best International Feature Film Documentary“ in Laughlin International Film Festival, and was the “Opening Film” for Cebu International Documentary Film Festival (Philippines).
At the AT&T Center in Los Angeles, “Shunned ” had a successful screening with hundreds of enthralled viewers, red carpet appearances, and the press. It was in this moment that made all her sacrifices worth it. Audience members proclaimed Janice Villarosa a hero.
She inspires others through her immense dedication to her craft and telling stories for those whose voices have been silenced by society. Janice Villarosa is not who I look up to for her successes, but for her character. Her perseverance and unbreakable spirit are why she is someone I look up to. I hope to emulate her fortitude in all that I set my mind to. I will always be inspired by her compassion towards others and her courage to go after her dreams, no matter how uncertain things may turn out.
Be a mentor to someone. Motivate others by venturing into the great unknown. If you are not absolutely in love with your life-change it. You never know who you will inspire.