Stories from the brainreels: Guests Gigi & Ashley Williams & Dori Lyon, from Angela’s Sacred Heart

Listen to this post: 

It’s my great honor to bring you an interview with another female filmmaker two months in a row. While it’s not directly about disability, I think you’ll quickly see the importance and my interest in these topics.

This month’s podcast features African-American filmmaker Gigi Williams, her daughter and actress Ashley Williams, and counselor Dori Lyon. We’re talking about the new short film “Angela’s Sacred Heart.” It’s a very necessary drama based on real-life events from Gigi’s life, with Ashley playing the character inspired by Gigi’s actual experiences. Not only are there the layers of emotion around Gigi coming to terms with sexual assault perpetrated against her when she was a young woman, but then her own daughter now brings Gigi’s story to life by playing her in the film. I can’t begin to tell you what it was like to sit at the table with the three of them together, listening, talking, and watching them watch each other. I have chills writing about it now. Gigi shared the role of Co-Director with Jerry Bell, Jr., and it’s so wonderful that she did. My listeners know I always give preference to media created by someone from the community the film is about, especially when the story centers around someone who is marginalized. Talk about moving from being victimized to being empowered by creating this film.

The podcast is not graphic with assault details, but we are talking about rape, sexual assault, toxic masculinity, and a culture of silencing girls and women who have been victimized and brutalized. Please understand this going in and take care of yourself, whether you choose to listen to it or not.

The next link is to an article from July 20 16. It details the story of a woman who was raped and what happened to her when she had an emotional breakdown while testifying in court. She has a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, which further stigmatized her in how the courts responded to her breaking down. (How do they expect anyone to not break down while describing your rape and assault to a roomful of strangers on even your best day?) With these stories, there’s the crucial question of how a mental illness is directly influenced by sustaining trauma and how trauma itself intensifies someone’s state of mind and affects their wellness. The vicious cycle of trauma, reliving trauma, and retraumatizing. Sensitive readers, please be advised before clicking the next link. The article contains graphic details of miscarriage of justice, victim-blaming by the court, and abuse behind bars. The article is linked here. And I link it here because I want more conversation around this. What Gigi survived a few decades ago continues, and we have to band together, all take responsibility, real responsibility. As Linor Abargil also pointed out in her fierce documentary, Brave Miss World. Like Gigi, Linor shares her own story and also documents numerous other women’s graphic stories of assault. Not just assault, also the community-building and empowerment that comes after sharing and reclaiming charge and autonomy over your body and your life.

“Angela’s Sacred Heart” is an official selection at the 2016 San Francisco Black Film Festival and the 2016 Action On Film International Film Festival and Writers’ Celebration.

Check out Gigi’s live interview with Brother Cecil on the Portland Community Media show Po’ Folks Community Needs for Justice on August 14th at 3:00 pm.

Please like the Angela’s Sacred Heart Facebook page and follow it for a lot of thought-provoking articles and big announcements.

Click here for an accessible transcript of podcast episode #51.

Angela’s Sacred Heart Creative Team Bios for Gigi, Ashley, and Dori

Domestic and Sexual Violence Resource List