Ah, still fresh-faced and waiting for my order at Denny’s.

Despite What We’ve Been Told, Our Stories Matter

I’ll admit that I was frozen in fear for about a split second.

Alexandra Tengco
Oct 3, 2018 · 4 min read

It’s a new school year, and for the first time in four years, I’m not going back to my teaching assistant job. Instead, I’m starting my role as Head of Video for The Tempest.

As a first-generation Filipina-American, that entire sentence is nightmarish for my parents and relatives, who wanted my sisters and me to become nurses. And to add fuel to the fire, when I became a film major, I didn’t have a set goal, unlike my classmates who wanted to become filmmakers since they were kids.

When the live-action movie for Avatar: The Last Airbender came out, there was a lot of controversy over the casting. The source material was obviously inspired by Asian and Indigenous cultures, but the only people of color that were cast in the movie were as villains. As a fan of the original show, I was pretty vocal about what they called racebending, or whitewashing, in the film. I even got into an argument with a co-worker who tried to compare it to when they changed a main Battlestar Galactica character from a man in the original to a woman in the reboot.

How is that a bad thing?

That was the first of many times where people thought I was overreacting to issues like whitewashing and the lack of (good) representation in the media, so I stopped being so vocal about it. But I was inspired to use film as a medium to change all of that.


Fast forward years later.

I found The Tempest by chance.

At the time, I was at a low point, feeling more and more depressed, and I dreaded going to work and had lost my motivation. Someone (I wish I remember who so I can thank them) had retweeted a couple of Laila’s tweets that caught my eye: about a fellowship and disrupting the world, and how you should apply even if you’re feeling imposter syndrome.

When I was first approached about this position, I’ll admit that I was frozen in fear for about a split second.

I didn’t realize that that was exactly how I felt until I read those tweets.

Everything about The Tempest was what I’ve been looking for and reminded me of my previous goals. To change perspectives. To tell our stories. To show that we matter. And rather than being ignored, The Tempest was a place where people were talking about the same issues I cared about. And not just any people.

Diverse, millennial women were running the show, and that meant so much to me.


I’ve done a couple of gigs as an assistant editor and camera assistant. As an introvert with social anxiety, it was difficult, nerve-wracking, and at times, panic-inducing, to try and connect to people while working on set, most of whom were middle-aged white men.

And The Tempest is in direct opposition to all of that: to industry norms, to mainstream media, to what society expects (and tells us) a media company should be.

When I was planning on leaving my previous job, I made a list of interests and dealbreakers. I realized that a lot of my personal values already aligned with The Tempest.

So, here I am.

It took me years to realize that being open to change, the willingness to evolve, and letting people thrive are very important values to me. Those are core values that I would like to embody as the Head of Video.

I want us to grow. Not just in numbers, but in the quality and type of content that is produced.

My goal is to increase the presence of video content on all of The Tempest’s platforms, showing that we are a go-to source for visual experiences that are not just relatable, but also shareable.

At the same time, our videos will be just as distinguishable and meaningful as our written content, showcasing voices and experiences that are largely ignored by mainstream media.

We’ve been told time and time again, “Be quiet and wait for your time.” Well, if you’ve been paying attention, it’s pretty obvious that our time is now.

The trends in online video content are constantly changing, so the videos that we produce will evolve as well. However, The Tempest will remain a place for authentic stories that will resonate with our global audience. Our video team is made up of people who were inspired by what they saw from The Tempest, and they want to tell stories that will also inspire others.


I’m very excited to lead this team through a new phase of video for The Tempest. When I was first approached about this position, I’ll admit that I was frozen in fear for about a split second.

But not once have our leaders, Laila Alawa and Mashal Waqar, led us to believe that we aren’t good enough. It may be different from what I expected for my career, but the goals remain the same: representing and lifting up marginalized voices, telling our stories through visual mediums, and taking charge of our narratives.

We’ve been told time and time again, “Be quiet and wait for your time.” Well, if you’ve been paying attention, it’s pretty obvious that our time is now.

And I’m so excited to be at the forefront of that revolution.


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The Tempest

Your stories. Our world.

Alexandra Tengco

Written by

Compulsive Hobbyist

The Tempest

Your stories. Our world.

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