Photo of Sonia Mayor

Sonia Mayor

Sonia Mayor has been nominated by Nik Peasgood of Women’s Aid Leeds, supported by Beth Johnson, Associate Professor in Film and Media, School of Media and Communication, University of Leeds and Deborah Maturi, Director of Leeds Young Film Festival, Independent Directions Film Festival (INDIs) & Leeds Young Film Manager.

Nik says “Sonia was inspired by a Ted Talk by Naomi Mcdougall Jones in which the award winning Hollywood filmmaker highlights the impact that films have on women’s career choices, self-esteem and wellbeing. She came up with ‘Women’s Voices in Film’.

Film 50:50 has now raised £400.00 for a refugee charity at one of our viewings. Sonia is pushing the idea of screening films, raising awareness of our issue but also raising money for charities who work with us….win win approach.”

Who has she helped?

“Sonia is a whirlwind of excitement, possibilities and change. She has inspired many people, both women and men, as well as young people, that everyone can make a small step, which can amount to huge change.

Women’s Voices in Film was spreading the message that 96% of all films we watch are made by men. It has morphed in to #Film50:50, and she has created collaborations with Leeds International Film Festival, Leeds City Council, University of Leeds and hundreds of individual women, men and young people.”

What’s worked?

“Realistic and down to earth ‘asks’; bringing women’s lives, experiences and contributions into the mainstream and asking people to get involved – because they can! Many campaigns feel unreachable with them being too big, but this gives people a way of doing something themselves that they can see changing.

We are talking about women filmmakers, directors, producers in a way we weren’t before. We are downloading different films. There’s a buzz.”

What has she learnt? Any challenges?

“Sonia’s vision of ‘it’s not about me’ is refreshing and challenging in a really positive way. She shies away from the limelight and wants the films and the idea to speak for itself. She denounces ‘heroes’ and sees leading about being a ‘host’.

People willingly support those things that they’ve played a part in creating.  Leaders ‘hosting’ others is the only way to get complex problems solved! The next challenge is to grow #Film50:50 further, taking its key message (we can all contribute to be part of this positive change) to new communities and regions.”

What’s next?

“Aiming to get everyone to watch at least one film a month with women ‘filmmakers’, get film festivals to consider 50% of their films to be made by a woman filmmaker, have fun, celebrate women’s achievements, make an on-going change.

Sonia has also worked with Naomi McDougall Jones on a shorter talk aimed directly at the work being done in Leeds and how that can be up scaled across the UK and the world!”

What advice, contacts or resources would help you?

“Promoting women’s achievements in film through a network, conversations, connections.”

Why we’re sharing these stories

An individual or organisation from each of our five categories will be recognised at our Igniting Inspiration recognition event in November, but we want to publish all relevant stories to spread awareness of all the positive work that goes on in the North!