Goldsmiths graduate wins Emmy Award for Short Documentary

Lindsey Dryden (BA Media and Communications, 2003) attended the 40th Annual News and Documentary Emmy® Awards in New York City on 24 September 2019 with her film Trans In America: Texas Strong, which won the Outstanding Short Documentary category. The film premiered at South By Southwest (SXSW) 2019 and won a Webby Award and a Webby People’s Voice Award in May 2019.

Trans In America: Texas Strong is the emotional story of mum Kimberly Shappley, a conservative Christian mother who has to reject her community’s beliefs when her 7-year-old daughter Kai comes out as transgender. Meanwhile, Kai has to navigate life at school where she’s been banned from the girls’ bathroom.

Lyndsey produced and led a ground-breaking team of LGBTQ+ and transgender filmmakers to make this powerful short documentary in concert with the American Civil Liberties Union and her production company Little By Little Films, which specialises in telling stories about, and crucially by, underrepresented voices.

Their goal was to create powerful, provocative, raw short documentaries, and to use intimate human storytelling to reveal the devastating cost of discrimination against transgender people, at a time when violence against trans people is at a high. To date in 2019, there have been 19 deaths of transgender people in the U.S. due to fatal violence.

Emmys win team 1

To honour their community, the LGBTQ+ crew of Trans In America: Texas Strong attended the Emmy® Awards ceremony together with the film’s subjects, Kimberly Shappley and her transgender daughter Kai, during a record year for transgender representation. At the Television Emmy®’s, Laverne Cox made history as the first openly trans performer to be nominated for Best Comedy Guest Actress for Orange Is the New Black, trans Drama series Pose had several nominations and LGBTQ+ icon Billy Porter won Best Lead Actor for his role in the series. Actress Patricia Arquette made headlines with her impassioned speech about protecting trans people from violence and discrimination, in honour of her transgender sister Alexis Arquette. The Trans In America film team understands that Kai will be the first transgender child ever to attend the News & Doc Emmy® awards. (8-year-old Kai understands that she will be the best-dressed person at the awards, bar none.)

Dryden said: “We are attending the Emmy Awards in honour of our LGBTQ+ community, and especially our trans brothers and sisters. I’m so moved and inspired by the courage of mums like Kimberly, who risks alienation and rejection to embrace her trans child, and by children like Kai, who lives every day with humour and authenticity and love, in a world that tells her she shouldn’t be her true self. We want to say with our film and our presence that all trans people are valued, and trans people will not be erased.”

You can watch the film online via YouTube, the Trans In America website or on Condé Nast’s platform ‘them’.

Producer Lindsey Dryden is a director, producer and executive producer, whose recent films include Jennifer Brea’s Unrest (winner of a Sundance Special Jury Award and Academy Award shortlisted in 2017), Jackie Kay: One Person Two Names (Tate Britain, 2017) and Lost and Sound (SXSW, 2012). She is a fellow of BAFTA/BFI Flare and Guiding Lights (mentored by Andrew Haigh) and a proud founding member of Queer Producers Collective and FWD-DOC. Her work can be seen on Netflix, PBS, BBC, Channel 4 and at festivals worldwide including Sundance, SXSW, Tribeca, HotDocs, True/False and Sheffield Doc/Fest. She founded Little By Little Films in 2011, to focus on surprising storytelling led by powerful underrepresented voices.

Read the full 40th News and Documentary Emmy® Award Nominations Press Release.

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