One of my goals in 2018 has been to create events in the community for people, especially women, to come together to connect, speak, and share space.
Successfully putting an event together in honor of International Women’s Day last Thursday was powerful and reminded me that courage can invite so many great things into my own life and into the lives of others.
Photos taken by Génesis Ahtty
At the end of 2017, Jean Edelstein, an extraordinary writer and former colleague, tipped me to the “Women@Spotify” group, an employee-run group at Spotify for those who self-identify as a woman. The group’s mission is to celebrate, support and elevate members through initiatives and events. I thank Jean for planting the seed for me to explore resources to plan events in LA on behalf of and for women in music.
Months later, I’m proud that I launched the first official Women@Spotify LA event on International Women’s Day this year: Women in Music & Film: Panel and Networking Mixer.
In thinking about the themes of the event, I wanted to specifically invite Women of Color to speak. Intersectionality, a theory on race and gender, coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw, is important to raise awareness of and talk about–black women and other Women of Color have different experiences and challenges compared to white women.
I was also inspired to invite women filmmakers in music and film because as I’ve entered into the field of video through writing video content for RapCaviar, I wanted to connect with more women in these spaces.
I invited Evita Castine and Jaimie Sanchez to join me as featured panelists. These two incredible women have interesting backgrounds that have led them on their paths where music and film collide:
Jaimie Sanchez is a Dominican-American documentary producer and director hailing from Brooklyn, NY. She has helped produce films for the ESPN 30 FOR 30 series and was most recently a senior producer at VICE. She currently directs video content for Spotify. She has worked with brands like NIKE, CASIO, Pyer Moss and GoPro to showcase documentary filmmaking as a valuable medium.
Evita M. Castine is a writer, director, editor, cinematographer and photographer. She is Warner Brothers Emerging Director Finalist, Emmy winner and took home the audience award at the Diversity in Cannes Showcase in Cannes, France for her film “Only Light.” She is heavily influenced by black anthropologists and writers like James Weldon Johnson and Zora Neale Hurston who inspired her to look at the soul’s expression through the simple acts of everyday life using sound and images. She has directed videos and photographed artists Cody ChesnuTT, SZA, Dej Loaf, Raphael Saadiq, A Tribe Called Quest, Lalah Hathaway, Common and more.
It was an affirming, healing and inspiring evening of conversation and connection. Listen to the full conversation and Q&A below about the strides and learnings in Evita and Jaimie's careers and the importance of recognizing and owning your power as a woman and more.
Key moments throughout the conversation and Q&A:
5 min: The moment Evita realized she was committing herself to filmmaking when she started making films with friends which is what filmmaking is at its core
5:40 min: Jaimie on being the first out of her siblings to go to college, graduating with a biology degree but realizing that something creative was calling her and taking a chance on herself
7:30 min: Catalyzing things for a man that Jaimie didn’t quite understand herself at first but realizing her power that she could things for herself: "This would not have happened if I weren’t in the equation...I could do this for myself instead of just empowering someone"
8:34 min-~14:00 min how Evita’s identity as a black woman and Jaimie’s identity as a Dominican-American woman influence their work and the way they work with people behind the scenes
14:38 min: Evita on the most important thing you can do for yourself is hold space for yourself. The only way you know it is because you know it.
16 min: we all live on the internet, there are no boundaries or conventions of anything. It’s about the work at the end of the day.
20 min: All you need to say is "I am a director, I am XYZ," avoid saying "I'm an aspiring XYZ"
21 min: Building confidence through persistence
22 min: Putting yourself in the position with the right people and being selective about your opportunities to build resources, even if you have to pay your dues sometimes
23 min: Biggest lessons throughout Evita and Jaimie's careers that stick with them
26 min: Trusting your gut and being resourceful on your own
27 min: Investing in your personal life, don’t isolate into one narrow path
29 min: Proudest moments and highlights in Evita and Jaimie's careers so far
33 min: Importance of empowering women, putting other women on and spreading positivity because it will come back to you
38 min: Q&A: How do you deal with men in the industry who only want to help you after you date them?
40 min: Importance of boundaries
42:16 min: Evita on "Your intellectual property is important, especially for Women of Color"
43:26 min: Act and walk around with the confidence of a man
45 min: Awareness of pay and challenges women face with negotiating pay
48 min: Q&A: How do Evita and Jaimie collaborate with music composers as filmmakers?
52 min: Q&A: Where do you find the line to pause and use better judgment from difficult situations where you feel immediate emotional responses like anger or crying?
58 min: Q&A: How to deal with competition among fellow women?
1:00 hr: Love yourself no matter what and everyone has their own "bucket of magic"
1:02 hr: Your peace of mind is all you have
1:03 hr: Insecurities and vulnerabilities
1:04:38 hr: Q&A: How do you establish your identity when you're getting feedback from people on how to be?
1:12:20 hr: Q&A: What advice do you have for me to expand beyond just being a producer-singer-songwriter to share my music in film?
Additional links and resources that came up from the talk:
One of the pieces that Jaimie was especially proud to lead in creating and producing was The Rise of Demon Exorcism in Mexico.
Evita’s experience has ranged from documentary filmmaking and more. Watch her directing reel.
Jaimie recommended the movie Everything is Copy, a look into the life of writer and filmmaker Nora Ephron, embodying the trials and tribulations that women go through in their personal and professional lives
Personal key takeaways:
My voice as Jane Shin matters. I am not defined by where I work. I’m Jane Shin in the end. My dreams have no bounds, my identity has no bounds.
Evita mentioned, “I’d rather be scared and free-falling and be free instead of wondering what if?” I had moments where I questioned how things would go with the event, but in the end, it all worked out. Taking that step, no matter how things turn out, can open doors and spark more ideas and connections.
Challenges are inevitable on this journey. When things don’t go my way, stepping back to remember that my peace of mind is what’s crucial to protect and uphold will help me learn and grow.
I am grateful for all the amazing women in my life who came out to support me or shared their support for me from afar. Thank you everyone who took the time out of their evenings to make it all the way out to Century City. I felt so honored, loved, and heard. I also want to share a special thank you to Génesis Ahtty. The last large-scale event I planned was the SoundCloud Artist Forum back in 2015. Génesis was my first intern at the time and was a massive part of the planning and execution of the event. She came in clutch again, on her birthday no less, to be the official photographer and videographer for the International Women's Day event. Look to uplift and support those around you.