All in Identity

Bia, Film Director

“It’s difficult to be a woman of color in [North] America. I have to fight against prejudice and people keep saying I look so young. That’s great in a way, but I can’t help but feel underestimated for what I can do. It’s been a constant struggle for me growing up—proving myself—but now that I’ve learned so much, I’m still perceived as a child. I try to not let that get to me, in a way it’s like having an invisibility cloak or being the dark horse who suddenly wins the race. I do think I offer a decisive leadership on set that is also respectful and compassionate, which is missing in the world right now. I actually take pride in having a different style. I create the type of dynamic that I wish to see in the world: a crew with women in the key roles, where each person is valued and respected, and I direct films about women. If I want to see that in the world, it has to start with me.”  (c) Apa Agbayani

Gwen of Gwen Rakotovao Company

“I didn’t decide to combine dances, being both Malagasy and French it was not me to be trained in one style, to be very ballet or strictly jazz. I had so much range of movement in my body that I could not fit exactly in a specific technique. So it was a need for me to do my own dance. It was not really a choice. The solo show ‘Esperanto’ is my story and also the untold stories of those like me who were not born in the land of their ancestors. I’ve always wanted to talk about coming back to one’s roots through dance, how cultures define us and also divide us but that we can connect with our human spirit and be together. I want to explore that and make it happen.”

Nicki of

"I grew up watching a lot of Princess movies and it wasn’t until Moana that I felt empowered. She was all about going out of her comfort zone and chasing her dreams. She was scared at the beginning but did not give up. She showed me leadership and confidence. She isn’t the definition of 'media beauty', which is normally skinny and fair-skinned. Her movie was the closest to Philippine culture and it made quite an impact on me. I realized my own beauty when I went out of my own comfort zone whereas I used to be an extra in presentations and out of the spotlight. I am now happy performing through dance, theater, and cosplay. It doesn't cross my mind anymore that I am chubby or tanned; I am beautiful. It feels different and I'm happy to give joy to other kids. Beauty doesn’t just rely on the appearance but is also evident when someone is passionate."


"I am not an advocate for too specific identity politics where my identity is tied to necessarily just me being a woman, a Filipina, a Cebuana, a manager, or a wife. There’s too much baggage. I do believe that there are many intersections for identity. A lot of mine was shaped by my being the eldest so I had to do many things independently. I had to learn on my own. And I’ve also just done things because I like to, not because I’m a woman or because of the work that I do. For example underwear, I really like lacy but subdued understated lingerie. I don’t do that thinking that my husband will see me or some other person. It’s just for me."