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Foster Youth Lead in Film Festival at 3rd Annual Real to Reel

: Reel to Real staff (from left to right): Miguel Coleman, Ruben Garcia, Tynisha Lewis, Shawn Jackson, Johna Rivers, Syd Stewart, and Raquel Wilson. (Photo Credit: Naomi K. Bonman)

The opportunities for people of color in the entertainment industry have increased; however, getting in the industry is still very competitive and opportunities are far and few in between. Then you have programs, such as Better Youth, that provide outlets for young people to utilize the tools to get a few steps ahead of the competition and to build experience.

Real to Reel is one of the outlets. Founded by former foster youth Johna Rivers and Syd Stewart, the two of them together realized a dying need in the industry and have put forth together a momentous event. The festival was held at Los Angeles Film School in Hollywood. The red-carpet, celebrity studded event gets even better with entertainment vets who come out to speak and spark inspiration to these talented youths. Every film in the festival is shot, produced, and edited by youth. This year was even more powerful than others because every film submitted was by foster youth.

(from left to right) Casting Director Leah Butler, co-founders of Better Youth/Real to Reel Johana Rivers and Syd Stewart, and actress Edwina Findley (Photo Credit)

The day started with morning workshops facilitated by Akuyoe Graham (acting workshop), Ruben from AT&T (New Media), and Ullisses from Wells Fargo (Financial Literacy). Following the morning workshops was the red-carpet session which led to the panels and film screenings.

Casting Director Leah Daniels opened the festival with a presentation of special awards, with a surprise awards that was given to herself on behalf of Real to Reel. Edwina Findley also spoke and following her were a few performances. A panel took place after the films were shown.

To view the interview with Syd Stewart and to hear Leah Daniels speech, watch below.

Photo Credit: Naomi K. Bonman

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