We Don’t Need a Month to Celebrate our Diversity

Diversity in the workplace has become an increasingly popular (and touchy) topic these days, so without getting too deep into the nuances of today’s political and racial climate, we want to take a moment to celebrate the diverse crew that has been working hard behind the scenes of our upcoming feature film, A Paradise Lost.

By definition, diversity is “the inclusion of individuals representing more than one national origin, color, religion, socioeconomic stratum, sexual orientation, etc.,” and we, the crew of A Paradise Lost, are proud to be able to say that we, by this definition, are diverse.

A Paradise Lost is being produced and directed by Laurie Sumiye, who is an AAPI filmmaker and artist based in Hawai’i. Laurie has mindfully crafted a team of animators, musicians, editors, producers and interns from different backgrounds including the BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities. Inspired by her fellowship at Firelight Media and her time teaching at the University of Hawai’i – West O’ahu, Laurie has made inclusivity and diversity pillars of her hiring process. She’s committed to making sure there are more opportunities for up and coming creatives, so she is creating those opportunities. Approximately 60% of her team are women; and BIPOC (including the AAPI communities) make up roughly 70% of the entire crew.

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Laurie also wanted to make sure that Native Hawaiians were represented on her team, as this film is based in Hawai’i and centers around a Native Hawaiian bird and its struggle to survive in its own habitat. Currently 16% of the crew is Native Hawaiian, which is above the overall statistic which states that Native Hawaiians (and Pacific Islanders) account for 10% of the entire United States population.

Being based in Hawai’i has given us a particular advantage when it comes to having a “diversified” crew, and working on this film through a global pandemic has given us a unique opportunity to put more effort into successfully collaborating with an entire crew of people who cannot physically be together (thanks, Covid). So not only is our crew culturally diverse, but we are geographically diverse as well, with team member across the globe. Some of our crew is based locally in Hawai’i (some on different islands), others are based in various locations throughout the continental U.S., and we’ve even got team members in Shanghai and Japan.

We, the crew behind A Paradise Lost, believe that representation in the media (and those behind the scenes of it) is very important. We hope that by standing proud as members of some of the most underrepresented peoples in the film industry, we can be an example for others in the industry, and that we can bring a sense of hope to anyone who’s felt less than represented and hopes to join the filmmaking community in the future.

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