Earlier this year, Gabrielle Gorman was named one of only seven U.S. filmmakers to be selected as a YoungArts winner, one of the most prestigious awards in the country. Her experimental film Dear America hauntingly touches on body image and race through the medium of improvised narration. Toward the beginning of the film, she intimately tells the viewer, “I remember thinking about cutting all of my skin off, in hopes that the skin that would grow would be pale skin.” The film goes on to plead for the importance of breaking down stereotypes and how she fought to regain her body confidence.

Gabrielle, 18, won 2015 Student Honoree at the My Hero Awards in Los Angeles last December—an annual event that celebrates the best of humanity through media, art, and technology. During her film screening, the audience sat mesmerized and then gave her the only standing ovation of the night.

We recently sat down with Gabrielle, where she discussed difficulties she’s had with her father growing up, and how that impacted her body image before the making of Dear America. “Once I was finally able to see where a lot of that was coming from, where my insecurities were coming from, that’s when I started to grow a lot more.”

This summer Gabrielle will be traveling the globe, shooting and directing a documentary about a newly launched educational program called School of Doodle. Though she’s dabbled in filmmaking for as long as she can remember, she didn’t always feel she could have a place in the field. In fact, it wasn’t until she took a filmmaking class in 10th grade that she began to see women behind the camera. “We make up such a small percentage, and women of color is like so little. We have such great stories to tell.”

Loading the player...