Victoria Manalo Draves Independent Feature (not documentary)
To my UniPro family,
I have to say it was such an honor for those of you who invited me to speak at the UniPro Summit in May and opened your hearts up to listen to my and fellow colleagues stories.
When I first started this project about Filipino American Olympian Victoria Manalo Draves, it was a reaction to the roles of women in the acting world. I grew up wanting to be a storyteller, watching films with my dad like Blade Runner to independent films from around the world that still to this day capture my spirit. I wanted to live in those lenses of strong stories and creative moving spaces. Through my years at UC Santa Barbara I found myself sneaking into the Film Studies classes where I would learn about analyzing film and just felt this..magic. The kind of feeling of being in love. And I remembered those feelings of completeness, those memories with my dad. Before I would watch films with my dad, he would tell me bed time stories, from comic books to greek mythology, I knew I would be a storyteller, the medium changed for a bit. But I found myself completely wanting to be a part of film. The acting part, scared me. The risk of opening your heart up, breaking it and doing it over and over again made me want to do it more.
When I moved to LA I landed a manager, two agents, found an acting studios, got a production job and got my head shots done before I could buy a mattress for my apartment. But I didn’t care-I was doing film. Then the months went by-the years. The roles for women ranged from being murdered in a bikini to seducing men. What got me even more was the specific roles for Asian American and Filipino women, “exotic, seductive, submissive” where these lines usually came from the intention to serve and please. This following the audition of “the biggest role to date” was for a Fox pilot where I had to wear three bras and my character was a “fresh off the boat, seductive Asian that was a maid who had a breast implant and was saving up for more plastic surgery. Meanwhile, she was having an affair with the main character’s husband. To which the mother of the lead yells ‘move it Sanrio your people built the railroads.’”
The casting director literally told me, “come on your motivation is-more plastic surgery.” I looked at her deadpan. I felt a part of my soul was dying. My dad called me to ask me excitedly how my audition went and I started crying.I was then dropped for by my representation at age “23” for being “too old, too exotic, too mixed, too ‘we don’t know how to market you.’”
I then recalled, two years before that-I was handed a newspaper from the New York Times of a woman who was told to resemble me. Her name was Victoria Manalo Draves. My friend asked after being dropped -if I could act and produce something, what would it be? My first answer was “Victoria.” He asked me, “what’s stopping me?” I didn’t have an answer. I had worked for production companies and thought it was a waste-but it gave me a skill set to produce so we can be in front of the camera and have that voice.
I decided to pursue this story and let me tell you, it has opened up to me what I would like to inspire our community to do is “to find your passion.” They are often not about what you want but who you are doing it for beyond yourself. Vicki did it for her father, Teo Manalo, a man who was rejected from society yet believed so much in his daughter. I do it for my father, a man who never saw me as the roles made in “Hollywood” he saw me to do the roles made for “film.” Real art. That magic. The story changed, it pushed me not to be ambitious to be put myself in the role but to truly understand what it takes to make a difference. And it continues the meetings of “why don’t you cast another Asian?” To which I responded, “we can’t even play ourselves and when we do we are in the most demeaning of roles.” This became more personal, also being mixed I understand the bi-racial aspect of connecting to the American melting pot we are by communicating the story universally through only the best of independent filmmakers. Though to remain disclosed until we are out of development they have graced the stages of Sundance. We want to honor this right.
I am asking you to be a part of our story with an upcoming deadline, these essentially go towards developmentally funding but it helps give us the movement we need to get the film fully financed. This part it the most essential part, the foundation for a strong story.
I have attached a link here by July 10th to make a deadline. http://www.youcaring.com/other/vicki-manalo-/190312
$25 will get you a copy of the film and $50 will get you a copy as well as a Baybayin Filipino Sanskrit “Manalo” t-shirt. If you are a part of Uni-Pro I will write a personal message to each person that helps out with this goal.
Instead of reading another article of the “Asian/Filipino Americans lack of representation in media” this is an opportunity for us to be movers and shakers. We have our stories to tell. Will you be a part of it?
“Manalo means to win. My move is Manalo.”