As summer heats up, New York Women in Film & Television gears up for the start of our new year – and with it, new faces join our leadership team!
As a 501(c)3 non-profit, NYWIFT is governed by an 18 member Board of Directors, elected by the membership in late Spring. This diverse, accomplished group of women are at the top of their game in TV, film and digital media. They steer NYWIFT in advocating for equality, providing unique professional development opportunities, funding women filmmakers, and celebrating women’s achievements.
Meet S. Casper Wong.
New NYWIFT Board member S. Casper Wong
Tell us about what you do outside of NYWIFT.
I founded The Peace Pod Project – a multimedia, multi-platform dedicated space for two people to reconcile – to express forgiveness and gratitude. I am writing and producing an indie film – a sci-fi love story and a feature animation about a little girl’s outer space adventures. I chair the Asian American Women Media Makers. I often speak or moderate panels on the intersection of film and women /science / China. I have also been known to catch Pokemon.
What is your fondest memory of working in the entertainment industry?
I love how film and media can open minds and move hearts. When I traveled with my film The LuLu Sessions, a story about my best friend LuLu’s last 15 months of life as she was dying from breast cancer, I learned a powerful lesson about life and being vulnerable. Once in a while, post screening, a stranger would come up to me, tug at my sleeve and tell me that “I’ve never told anyone this, but…” confiding in me as if I am a long lost friend. In that moment, I feel the full privilege and power of my chosen métier – of connecting deeply with another person.
Wong (left) received the SASS Foundation for Medical Research’s Humanitarian Award for The LuLu Sessions‘ impact on depicting the social and emotional complexity of breast cancer
How did you first get involved with NYWIFT?
I left a cushy Silicon Valley job as IBM corporate counsel to become a filmmaker. I stepped out of a well-appointed legal office with leather chairs, a view of San Francisco, clients in dark tailored suits, and headed to NYU for a MFA in directing – into a world of creaky floors, Steenbecks, Arriflexes and 20-somethings in sweats.
That was my initiation into the film business – drinking from a fire hose. I remember attending NYWIFT programs as a film student, looking for my professional tribe in a male dominated field and finding my way around this industry.
What do you love most about NYWIFT?
That we are not one thing. There are women in the trenches writing stories from the recesses of winters past or stories set in 2100; women who are on the forefront of shaping, spinning stories for the hungry 24-hour media cycle; women who pull focus, strike sets, produce multi-million dollar productions; women who are media veterans; women who are returning after raising a family; and those who just arrived in NYC and building their trade.
Wong (fifth from right) with Asian American Women Media Makers at the Producers Guild of America Women’s Impact Network Mixer
Inequality in film, television and digital media has been a hot topic in the media lately, and righting that imbalance has always been a big part of NYWIFT’s mission. What are your thoughts on the problem? And how should it be solved?
Well, this is the very reason I became a filmmaker and an activist! As an attorney, I helped roll out the first Diversity Initiative at IBM for the Bay Area. I learned that diversity is complex. And it is intertwined with our social infrastructure. Who gets hired? Who gets promoted? Who gets funding for their films? Many of our biases are based on perceptions – created from images we see every day – consciously or subconsciously, reinforced over time. I came to understand how powerful the role of media is in creating these images and perceptions, and wanted to create images that more accurately represent my experience of the world. And that was, in part, why I decided to switch and become a filmmaker.
Growing up as an Asian American girl, our invisibility in media is blinding. Can you name an Asian woman actor? Director? It took 82 years before a woman received the Best Director Award at the Oscars! When there is no media representation of you or your stories a chunk of one’s national heritage goes missing. The current inequality uproar is corrective, with the goal of achieving more accurate representation of our collective experiences of our world today. And I’m in the thick of it by having founded the Asian American Women Media Makers in 2012. Our mission is to empower ourselves to tell our own stories – and it has been wonderful to watch our younger Asian women filmmakers creating and debuting their work at major festivals.
From left: Lambert Yam, Wong and Academy Award winner Ruby Yang at the 2015 Asian American International Film Festival (AAIFF)
What’s the best TV show/movie/web series you’ve seen recently? Why?
What are your plans for the summer?
Gearing up to launch my new sci-fi film, learning Latin and improving my handicap, currently at 36.
Learn more about the rest of NYWIFT’s 18 member Board of Directors on our website. And stay tuned to the blog this summer as we get to know the newest additions!