Nine Questions with Women in Film's Maikiko James

The Call Sheet

Brown Girls Doc Mafia • March 22, 2023

Nine Questions with Women in Film's Maikiko James
purple decal

1. What’s your logline for your origin story?

Mixed kid descended from justice seekers goes hard at art, hopefully merging the worlds — but you tell her.

2. How would you describe your work in 3 adjectives?

Fulfilling. Confounding. Marathon.

3. What are you most proud of in your career? In your life?

I’m not sure if pride is the correct emotion, but by this point in my life, I’ve come to know many incredible art and movement makers. We’re faced with an overwhelming number of daunting social and political challenges right now, and these are the people who continue to inspire me, who keep me upright. I’m lucky to have folks in my life who exemplify that it’s not solely resistance that stops destruction or oppression — but creation.

4. What are three things that bring you the most joy?

Belly laughs, good food, people getting what they need to thrive — and helping others to do so too.

5. What’s one creative medium you want to experiment with that you haven’t yet?

90’s R&B/00’s Top 40 intergenerational cover choir. Who’s in?

Women in Film

6. What does the perfect day look like for you?

A long walk, time with friends and family, and watching an excellent episode of TV or a fiction/documentary feature.

7. What advice would you give to your younger self?

You won’t necessarily know that much more twenty years from now, however you’ll feel a bit better about yourself — so keep doing you, love.

8. What drew you towards working with Women in Film?

Though I had been working for a long time in impact and advocacy, I hadn’t actually thought that much about gender inequity in mainstream media when I first started at WIF. I think I’d internalized structural disparity in entertainment as a given, and had focused more on issues where I thought I could make a difference. So when I learned what WIF aimed to achieve, I was compelled to learn more.

Now, over the last nine years working here, I’ve grown even more hopeful about the capacity for transformation and uplifting underrepresented voices — and that WIF, in collaboration with co-conspirators like BGDM, plays a significant role. I have a clearer view on how it must be a collective undertaking, that I think many — if not the majority — of people in our field want to make happen. It’s a lot of work, but the past few years have revealed so much about how systems have prevented people from telling our own stories, and making a sustainable livelihood doing so. We understand our targets with more clarity.

9. What’s your vision for women working in the film industry in the next 10 years?

That we and all people working have: opportunities to be hired and paid fairly, safe work environments, trust to tell our stories as we envision and live them, and an industry free of exploitation and abuse. Overall, I hope the segment of us that cares to, can lift up the craft over the commodification; that we can construct an industry that treats our filmmakers with respect and dignity. We have the resources to do so. We have to keep getting each others’ backs as we dream and enact change.

Brown Girls Doc Mafia

Brown Girls Doc Mafia

Brown Girls Doc Mafia (BGDM) bolsters the creative and professional success of women and non-binary people of color working in the documentary industry.

More stories