A woman who is psychologically damaged at an early age hides her pain behind plastic surgery, as an inner battle rages she loses her grip on reality and heads down a dangerous path of revenge to right the wrongs of her past.
Awaken her is written by Kerri Lynn Miller, an award winning filmmaker, writer and actress. Her recent short film , Etymology, which she produced and starred in received awards and nomination for best actress, best script, and jury prize. It wrapped it's festival run at the prestigious HollyShorts Film Festival. She was an executive producer on the short film "Muscle" starring Marc Menchaca and Reiko Aylesworth which played at over 30 festivals and won several awards.
Kerri's acting work can be seen on "FBI Most Wanted "opposite Jullian McMahon, "Blacklist" opposite Megan Boone, "Shades of Blue" opposite Jennifer Lopez, "Blue Bloods" opposite Peter Coyote and many other network shows. It is with great pleasure for us to interview her for the Toronto Film Magazine.
If you would like to learn more about AWAKEN HER and how you can help bring this important film to life please check out the campaign www.wefunder.com/awakenher
What draws you to writing scripts?
To highlight an issue that the world needs to look at. Awaken Her is a social impact film that looks at the need for society to examine the pressures that women face from the unrealistic standards society has burdened them with. Whether it be to act demure and quiet, or look perfect and beautiful, the message is clear...for women their self-worth is often judged by the way they look or how well they play the role of acquiescing to powerful men. I want the message from this film to be one of empowerment, a message that says a woman's self-worth comes from them and only them.
How and when did you start studying screenwriting?
I started studying screenwriting 9 years ago. I am an actor by trade, however, 9 years ago when I was pregnant with my son I began exploring screenwriting. The truth is that I wasn't being sent out much as a pregnant woman and quite frankly I wasn't turned on by the roles I was going out for. I wanted to tell a story that was truthful and that resonated with my own pain points. I have been working on bringing AWAKEN HER to life for the past 8 years.
What makes screenwriting stand out to you in the language of cinema?
I love movies, I love acting, writing and AWAKEN HER will be my directorial debut. Screenwriting is the bones of the project, it is the road map that everyone follows. It is the writer that provokes a starting place for ideas to blossom for the actors, directors, producers and crew. It is the first molecule of the structure that will continue to morph and become something bigger than the original idea. But it is the writer that starts it all in motion. I think of myself as someone who likes to inspire others with ideas, writing is a fun way to share your unique and authentic voice with the world.
Do you ever plan to direct and produce one of your scripts?
Yes, I plan on directing AWAKEN HER. I have a clear vision of how and what I want this film to do and more importantly how I want the audience to feel after they have watched it.
Tell us more about Awaken Her and the inspiration behind the writing of your script.
I spent 12 years of my life working in sales, specifically pharmaceuticals. I sold BOTOX to plastic surgeons and dermatologists while having acting gigs on the side. I learned the aesthetic world inside and out and began to understand the "whys" behind women choosing to have plastic surgery. Some women made their choices from a place of empowerment, they liked who they were and just wanted to feel fresher, while others made their choices from a deep place of self-loathing and shame. I fell into the later category. As a young girl, I felt ashamed of the way I looked, specifically around the way my nose looked. When I looked in magazines, I could never find anyone that looked like me or had a nose that looked like mine. I equated all of my self-worth with the way I looked on the outside. Around that time of my deepest self-loathing, I experienced a traumatic experience that confirmed the belief I had about myself. From that point on it became my truth and I decided that as soon as I could afford a nose job, I would have one. However, after my nose job, I then felt ashamed for having plastic surgery, it was a vicious cycle perpetuating shame. As I grew older I began to speak with other women, I learned I wasn't alone. Many women had self-loathing feelings about the way they looked often originating from an early traumatic experience. I wanted to understand how these traumatic experiences affect our self-worth and change the way we look at ourselves forever. It's taken me many years to overcome my issues around shame and self-worth and I am inspired to share a new message to help change the narrative for women everywhere.
What were some of the challenges of writing your script and the research that went into it?
The biggest challenge was allowing myself to be vulnerable in my writing. Many of my early drafts, I was hiding my truth and my pain and that was affecting the depth of my main character. I had to go deeper and I wasn't ready to go to the dark places that I knew I needed to go to tell an authentic story. In many ways this process has been cathartic for me, allowing me to step into my truth and to finally stop hiding who I am.
What is your cinematic goal in life and what would you like to achieve as a writer?
I see AWAKEN HER being the first of many scripts that I write and direct. I have a lot to say and I'm excited to collaborate with like minded artists and continue sharing truthful stories that connect to our humanity at the deepest of levels.
What kind of impact would your work have in the world and why do you think these themes are important in your script?
The themes of AWAKEN HER revolve around self-worth, identity, forgiveness and revenge. AWAKEN HER has the potential for women to relate to and feel seen and heard. To see the truth of their struggles and pain and to know they are not alone. I believe so many women equate their self-worth to the way they look and I hope this film will inspire or provoke alternative ways for feeling valued. I am excited that more women are directing. We have seen the male perspective for many years through the different movies they have directed. Stories have the potential to affect our subconscious mind. They can affect how we feel about ourselves and how we see ourselves in the world. The time is now for the female narrative to change and for the world to see stories told/directed through the female gaze.
If you would like to learn more about AWAKEN HER and how you can help bring this important film to life please check out our campaign www.wefunder.com/awakenher