Women of Wednesday: Jessica Estelle Huggins on Craft, Crowdfunding, and Living the Dream

WOMEN OF WEDNESDAY is a weekly micro-interview series featuring women of color in various industries and walks of life, focused on highlighting their pursuits and making it easy for readers to support their endeavors. If you would like to be featured, please submit your answers to the below five questions here.

Jessica Estelle Huggins, 26, Creative Producer (Chicago)

1. Tell us about the work you’re doing and why it’s important.

I have been creating media since I was fifteen years old. I knew that this was my calling since I was four. There was nothing else that I have ever loved or cared about more. I started as a writer, then went into acting. After not caring much about acting, I loved focusing on other people’s performances, so I got into directing. Shortly afterwards in high school, I got into editing. And finally, once entering college, I fell in love with producing. I consider myself to be a creative producer because I am heavily involved from conception to screening the final product. I orchestrate the entire process and get people to fall in love with storytelling as much as I am. The work that I specifically do is important because I am creating images where black and brown faces have the freedom to just be, live, and own social commentary for what’s happening today, tomorrow, forever. Being a filmmaker of color is significantly powerful because I get to create whatever I want with a purpose and with love that I have for my people.

2. What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in pursuing the work that’s important to you?

The biggest challenge that I face is lack of funding. Creating films is a highly expensive process. It takes a good amount of money and time. I am a strong advocate for artists to have the funding they need because the quality of your film changes greatly — for the better. Just being an artist in any industry is difficult because your schedule is not at all the typical 9 to 5, although many non-artists know that lifestyle as well just trying to live and pay the bills. People get creative: they work multiple jobs and save like crazy, they create incredible crowdfunding videos, etc. There are various ways to make more money, it’s just that with film, it takes a lot. And raising money is its own art form.

3. What do you need in order to continue your work in the way you envision?

In order to continue my work, I need funding. I have created budgets, budget outlines, and beyond to be able to show potential investors, organizations, grant writers how I came up with every dime and what it will be allocated towards. I have been blessed enough to have successful grants and crowdfunding efforts where I have surpassed the goal and was able to make the work that I could. I have also been blessed enough to have an incredible filmmaking family in Chicago. We just need funding to be able to not only create our work, but to maintain our livelihood. That is the dream.

4. Where and how can we support you to make #3 happen?

You can check out my website at www.JehCreative.com for more information and to see more of my work. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me should you want to possibly collaborate or hire me!

5. What is your favorite quote?

“The imagination is God’s way of making the act of self bearable.” — Six Degrees of Separation (Film Starring Will Smith, 1993)