“Street Heroines” Trailer
1) What was your first professionally directed work and when was it?
Street Heroines, a feature length documentary on the courage and creativity of female graffiti and street artists, is my first professionally directed work. I started working on the film several years ago and it is currently in post production.
2) How did you get into directing?
I began my creative career through photography and producing music videos, TV commercials, documentary series, and branded content. Having studied photography as a teenager, I picked it back up after moving to New York City where I took courses at the International Center of Photography. There I found inspiration to focus on photographing the urban environment. Combining my artistic inclinations with my professional producing skills, I decided to try my hand at making a short series of films that featured female artists who chose the street as canvas, as there was very little content around these subjects in the graffiti subculture. This was the beginning of ‘Street Heroines’.
3) What is your most recent project?
My most recent project is Street Heroines, the first-of-its-kind documentary film to capture the collective outcry of female street artists from around the world. In an interview-driven narrative, with anecdotes from pioneering artists Lady Pink, Claw Money, Nina Pandolfo, Swoon, Lady Aiko, and iconic graffiti photographer Martha Cooper, ‘Street Heroines’ follows three emerging Latina street artists from New York City, São Paulo, and Mexico City, as they navigate the male dominated subculture. While numerous graffiti genre documentaries feature household names such as Banksy and Shepard Fairey, Street Heroines disrupts this male-dominated content space by carving out a platform for women’s voices within a very significant art form and important movement.
4) What is the best part of being a director?
For me, I think the best part of being a director is the having the chance to tell stories that have not been told. We get to rewrite history from a new perspective and give a voice to underrepresented people. My absolute favorite part of filmmaking is traveling to foreign places and seeing different approaches to life that can serve to connect and teach us all important lessons about the human experience.
5) What is the worst part of being a director?
Having the title of director innately commands respect however being a woman makes it more difficult, in some cases, to earn the trust of clients or decision-makers and have them buy into your creative vision. I’d say the worst part of being a female director is the lack of opportunities that exist for women and the exhausting fight it takes to carve your own way. But it is essential for us to create our own spaces in order to be seen and heard and eventually trusted.
6) What is your current career focus: commercials and branded content, TV movies? Do you plan to specialize in a particular genre–comedy, drama, visual effects, etc.?
Currently I produce a broad range of branded content for Pepsi’s in-house content studio in New York City. As a director I am focusing on documentary storytelling that highlights underrepresented subjects who have no voice and few opportunities. After Street Heroines is released, I aim to continue the project as a six-part documentary series Street Heroines 2.0 that travels to Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. I also plan to write and direct a short narrative that looks at life for young women leading binational lives along the U.S. and Mexican border. Having spent my adolescent years not too far from El Paso and Ciudad Juarez, I am fascinated by the duality of cultures especially in our current day border crisis.
7) Have you a mentor and if so, who is that person (or persons) and what has been the lesson learned from that mentoring which resonates with you?
I would say that the multigenerational artists I’ve met through my journey making ‘Street Heroines’ are my mentors. Women from this artistic community have taught me perseverance, how to be an entrepreneur, and how to rise above the negativity that can come with being a woman who is trying to achieve her creative vision at all costs. Getting to tell their stories of struggle has influenced and inspired me to see my own creative endeavors through, if not for anyone else but myself. In return I hope this film inspires the next generation of female creative talent and that I become a mentor for others.
8) Who is your favorite director and why?
I gravitate towards filmmakers who can successfully transport an audience to another world, not only through visual storytelling, but also through music, which I have great respect for and has helped trigger many of my own ideas. A few directors I consider current favorites are Brazilian filmmakers Fernando Meirelles (City of God, Constant Gardener) and Jose Padilha (Elite Squad, Narcos), American filmmaker/musician Boots Riley (Sorry to Bother You), and American creative talent Melina Matsoukas, for her music videos, TV shows, and commercials.
9) What is your favorite movie? Your favorite television/online program? Your favorite commercial or branded content?
My favorite film, because my family watched it so many times growing up, is Black Orpheus the 1959 Palme d’Or winner of the Cannes Film Festival. My grandfather was an Arts & Culture writer for various newspapers, including the Washington Post, and brought foreign culture into our household through film, music, and literature. This film helped instigate my obsession with Brazil and its soundtrack became intrinsic to my childhood. Other impactful films include City of God from 2001, Bande des Filles from 2014, and Sorry to Bother You from 2018. As for television, I love Issa Rae’s Insecure on HBO, the French series Call My Agent on Netflix, and though I am not a very sci-fi gal, I enjoy Brit Marling’s The OA series.
10) Tell us about your background (i.e., where did you grow up? Past jobs?)
I was born in Alexandria, VA where I grew up until age 7 when my family moved out to the countryside in the Shenandoah Valley. When I was 11 years old, we packed up everything and headed west, landing in a place called Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. I went back east for boarding school at The Madeira School before going to Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA to study Diplomacy & World Affairs. I’ve lived in Europe, Italy, and London to be exact, and have also spent a significant amount of time in Latin America, specifically in Brazil. I once was an on-air DJ at a radio station and I also worked at an interesting store in south London for a few months selling shoes.
Contact Matthew Damato, EP, Valiant Pictures, regarding Alexandra Henry via email