Ladies First highlights women and girls who are making the world better for the rest of us.
When Moon McMillan was just 16 years old, she enrolled in a film class at her local Compton, CA community college. She fell in love with the expressive power in the art of filmmaking, and now, the 19-year-old is helping other kids express themselves through her Young Movie Makers of America program.
McMillan ran the first workshop by herself in the summer of 2016. The students, from grades five through eight, worked on writing scripts, editing, directing, sound mixing, and more, and were introduced to classic films and filmmakers.
“They fell in love with the whole process of creating and telling a story,” McMillan tells Brit + Co in an email. “Their love for the program pushed me to enhance and expand the workshop with the goal of introducing them to the filmmaking industry and all the facets of the many careers associated with filmmaking.”
Now, McMillan’s efforts are getting major attention from some Hollywood heavyweights. Last month, McMillan tweeted out a short highlight reel in which she also discussed some of the bigger reasons her program is important to her community. Her aim was to get help to expand her program.
“Firstly, there’s no question that there’s a lack of female representation and color representation inside of the film industry,” she says in the video. “Sometimes our stories aren’t told. And if they are told, they aren’t told by us. And if they aren’t told by us, then they aren’t told correctly.”
The tweet blew up. A Wrinkle in Time director Ava DuVernay retweeted it to her 1.3 million followers, and it has garnered attention from Get Out director Jordan Peele. At the time of writing, it has over 10,000 retweets.
“Every time I think about the number of times the promo video has been retweeted, my heart gets full and my smile gets bigger,” McMillan says. “People care about my kids and that makes me so happy. They’re helping me spread the word of how important it is to bring out the best in every child.”
McMillan’s creative talents go beyond filmmaking: She’s also a rising singer and songwriter. She says her art continues to be an important outlet for her, and she wants to give other kids the same opportunity.
“From the very first day, my vision was simple. It was to expose as many children in my community as possible to the amazing world of filmmaking, in order to help them tell their story and see it unfold,” she says. “To learn how to better communicate, to be writers, and to see that everyone has a story to tell and everyone’s story is equally important.”
“It was my goal to create a space for kids who want to create, a space that is without judgment and a place where they can simply just ‘be.’ I accomplished that.”
Workshops are currently being finalized for early November, and applications will be available in October. You can follow her on Twitter @moondomination for updates on the program.
Did you ever take a class or program that changed your life? Let us know @BritandCo!
(Featured photo via @musicbymoon/Instagram)