Reel Works Honorees Nia Long And Val Boreland, Host Ego Nwodim Celebrate The Next Black Female FilmmakersBy Shara Talia Taylor | May 31, 2023 | Entertainment
Actress and producer Nia Long and NBCUniversal’s EVP, Head of Content Acquisitions, Val Boreland were honored at the Reel Works 22nd Annual ChangeMaker Gala hosted by Saturday Night Live‘s Ego Nwodim in New York. The nonprofit aims to support underserved New York City youth in sharing stories through filmmaking and creating pathways to media careers.
“This is a great evening and I’m really proud of all the young recipients. Who knows, maybe we’ve got the next big female director/writer/producer in the building,” said Long. “I think that’s what this night is about.”
Long spoke on the red carpet about how being honored for her is more about her contributions to the business and empowering Black women. When asked about her favorite project, she shared that she loves each character she’s played on screen because of the diverse representation of the culture.
“I try to find roles that are opposite of what I did last time,” Long revealed. “I think as you get older in this industry they tend to try to pigeonhole you. What’s great about tonight is that these are new filmmakers who will have a different vision and a different voice that will only expand on how Black women play a role in the industry.”
Honoree Boreland shared, “Having been in the industry for a while, putting in the work and inspiring younger people, I think that’s what is most important and why I can wear and wave the trailblazer flag very proudly.”
Nwodim, the evening’s host, talked about being a trailblazer. “I’m doing work that I’m so passionate about and that I really enjoy. The best reward is looking around and seeing that it resonates with people and people feel inspired by it.”
Event attendee Wu-Tang Clan rapper Ghostface Killah shared how he also loves to inspire kids and how Wu-Tang continues to have an impact after almost 30 years. The hip-hop pioneers’ debut studio album, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), was released in 1993.
“I had a bunch of kids run up to me yesterday,” he said. “Some of them had Wu-Tang shirts on. That’s how I know that what you put in the universe really comes into fruition because Wu-Tang is forever.”
Reel Works connects teens with mentors who are professional filmmakers to help steer and help them launch their careers. Annalya Reddick, 20, a college junior and film/video major at SUNY Oswego from Brownsville, New York, took to the stage to speak about her experience with Reel Works. She’s been involved since her sophomore year of high school.
“My night was amazing,” she said after the show. “I felt amazing going up on stage. The positivity, the comments and the energy were amazing. I felt so happy to be here.”
She said the program has helped her get internships and jobs, and find opportunities after college. She hopes to make movies one day.
Brooklyn College sophomore and film production major Violet Gallo received the 2023 F. John Outcalt Award for Outstanding Filmmaking.
“My story is about when a timid teenager starts feeling invisible, she has to stand up for herself in order to gain the visibility back,” Gallo said. “It feels really great. I’m very happy with myself and this award.”
The night also featured fundraising efforts, including a live auction to support student documentaries like Gallos.
photo credit: STT for Ammane Media