I came across Candice D'Meza online when she asked to interview people for her documentary. She requested the stories of those in a specific situation: Struggling with depression and NOT white.
I became immediately interested in knowing more. Below, Candice gives us a peek into her inspiration, journey, and excitement surrounding the project.
The project was inspired by my own journey with depression and anxiety, and not having enough safe and sacred spaces to share my struggles in public. Because of this, I was led to publish my diary, in a book called Birth of an Alchemist. I self-published it online (available through Createspace.com/6880794 and on Amazon.com), and then felt compelled to widen the dialogue about depression and how culture, race, sexuality, religion, and country of origin shape the way that we process and cope with depression.
The film is entitled Blessed Thieves: Unmasked, and is the first part of a three-part art series called Blessed Thieves. The purpose of Blessed Thieves is to increase vulnerability and authenticity within our relationships and in how we collectively and personally engage in the world. It asks the questions, "What keeps us from being authentic? What do we risk when we show up and let ourselves be seen? What do we lose when we don't show each other our nakedness?" The film will be filmed interviews with women of diverse backgrounds, who are taking a step to share their perspectives and experiences with depression and how these various social constructs impact their experience for better or for worse. It's a love story from women to women, to show open acceptance and support for the journey, even the uglier parts of it. I purposely sought out women whose experiences I have never heard in the public discourses about depression: stories from Arabic/Middle Eastern, Asian/South Asian, immigrant, LGBTQ, African/African-descent, Muslim, Hispanic women.
The title is taken from Khalil Gibran's story called "The Madman", where a man discovers that his masks have been taken. What starts out as fury becomes liberation as he, for the first time, feels the sun on his bare face. In this story, the man in amazement cries out "Blessed are the thieves that stole my masks." This is what I am attempting to do for myself and for others. Also, I was inspired by the ground-breaking writing of Brene Brown, professor at UH, who wrote the book entitled "Daring Greatly". In it, she shows how shame hurts our growth and how vulnerability allows us to be seen, to fall, and continue to accomplish great things. To this end, I have now monikered myself the "VulneRAWbility Visionary". RAW being an acronym for Revolutionary, Authentic, Willing.
Brittany Pierre is a budding filmmaker and editor, and this project will be our first collaboration together and our first times working on a film.
I have been active in the Houston professional theater scene, but this will be my first time producing a movie. It's a very exciting process but is really pushing the boundaries of my own courage and ability to be vulnerable. I love it.