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Melissa Beatriz is one of the 2022 AL DÍA 40 Under Forty honorees. Graphic: Maybeth Peralta/AL DÍA News.
Melissa Beatriz is one of the 2022 AL DÍA 40 Under Forty honorees. Graphic: Maybeth Peralta/AL DÍA News.

2022 AL DÍA 40 Under Forty Honoree: Melissa Beatriz

Melissa Beatriz, Director of Actívate & Co-Founder of ¡Presente! Media, will be honored during the 2022 AL DÍA 40 Under Forty on Aug. 26.

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The third annual AL DÍA 40 Under Forty event serves to highlight and showcase some of the most diverse and impactful young professionals across the Philadelphia region. 

At this year's event, taking place Friday, Aug. 26, Melissa Beatriz will be one of the 40 honorees. 

Biography

Melissa Beatriz is a documentary filmmaker, journalist, cultural producer and researcher whose work focuses on the intersection of social justice, media arts/culture and policy. She often participates in collaborations with artists and grassroots organizations, in which she has focused on storytelling, resource mobilization, and communities. 

Her media work has been supported by Independence Public Media Foundation, Velocity Fund, Doc Society Good Pitch Local Philadelphia, Leeway Foundation, Double Exposure Scholar program, Sundance Institute's New Frontier Philadelphia Day Lab intensive, and the Public VR Lab.

Beatriz is the co-founder of ¡Presente! Media, a Philadelphia-based collective that produces bilingual journalistic artists and documentaries. She is also a 2019 Leeway Transformation Awardee and a 2020 Fellow of the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures (NALAC) Leadership Institute. 

As part of the lead-up to the AL DÍA 40 Under Forty event, AL DÍA asked each of the honorees a set of identical questions and collected their responses. 

Here are Melissa Beatriz's responses: 

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your professional career?

One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced in my professional artistic career has been establishing myself as an independent artist. It can be especially difficult to work as a freelancer while trying to develop one’s body of work, all while trying to build a sustainable career. During these challenges though, I have and continue to learn so much about all of the sectors I’m part of, including documentary filmmaking, social justice nonprofits, and research. Working with various grassroots and cultural organizations, building a consistent group of collaborators, and being part of collectives have all helped me advance during challenges like these.

What are steps that can be taken to improve diversity, equity and inclusion in your industry? Why is it important to do so?

In documentary filmmaking, folks who are directly connected to the stories being told should be the ones taking a lead role on producing these projects. And these projects should be well-funded. The local funding landscape should look within and truly ensure the grantmaking process is inclusive, if they are not doing so already.

What does being a leader mean to you?

To me, being a leader means looking forward and envisioning how one can use their particular skillset to make a change. Being a leader includes bringing others along with you when opportunities arise, whether that includes creating a collaborative project, collective, or initiative. Being a leader means speaking up and advocating for your community, such as for inclusion, leadership and funding opportunities, and policy shifts.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I look forward to having a more developed body of documentary film, writing, and research focused on the intersection of social justice, media arts/culture, and policy. I’d like to keep mentoring younger artists who are interested in these areas. I’m also excited to see how my community continues to thrive through creativity and joy.

The 2022 AL DÍA 40 Under Forty event will take place Friday, Aug. 26 at The Vie at Cescaphe. To learn more or purchase your ticket, click here

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