Focal Point: Holly Smith and Desiree Brightnose on their training experience

Holly Smith and Desiree Brightnose

Rachel Young

Outreach and Engagement Lead

At the National Screen Institute, we’re thrilled to celebrate our alumni and their accomplishments. Through Focal Point we aim to highlight significant milestones our alumni achieve with their projects and in their careers.

In today’s Focal Point, we hear from CBC New Indigenous Voices graduates Holly Smith and Desiree Brightnose about their experiences in this full-time, 14-week online training program. Holly and Desiree graduated with their fellow classmates earlier this month.

Congratulations to the CBC New Indigenous Voices class of 2021:

CBC New Indigenous Voices is designed for Indigenous creators aged 18 to 35 to build their media careers and learn the essential elements of working in the film, TV and digital media industries.

For participants Holly and Desiree, the program helped develop their creative skills and provided opportunities and connections for them to take their next steps in the industry.

Holly Smith’s storytelling journey began earlier this year when she decided to pause her career as an occupational therapist to pursue her dream. She wanted to combine her love for storytelling with her desire to help others, and found CBC New Indigenous Voices to be the perfect stepping stone to enter the industry.

“I wanted to get into writing and storytelling to offer some representation for other people who might not fit into the boxes society creates for us,” said Holly. “What really drew me to this program was that it was for new creators, and Indigenous-specific.”

Holly wants to use her platform to highlight queer Indigenous stories. As a queer Indigenous person herself, she sees the lack of representation within the media, and wants to help change the conversation.

“[Queer Indigenous stories] are the stories I want to tell,” said Holly. “I think they are important to create dialogue within the Indigenous community, but also for other young queer Indigenous people to see themselves on screen and in the media.”

Since completing CBC New Indigenous Voices, Holly is looking forward to developing her writing and storytelling skills through internships and other training opportunities. She believes the experience and connections she made through this program have helped solidify her space in an industry known for being difficult to break into.

“The National Screen Institute made this experience really welcoming and accepting, as someone who is new to the industry,” said Holly. “I’m so grateful for this opportunity, and all the lessons and information I was able to gather from this experience.”

Desiree Brightnose made the shift to storytelling in 2018 when she began media training with Assiniboine Community College. Even with her prior training, Desiree felt the CBC New Indigenous Voices program would help her form connections with industry professionals, and give her the hands-on training she needed to take her career to a new level.

“In this industry, you constantly need to learn,” said Desiree. “Building a strong foundation is key if you want to be successful, and I think that’s what the National Screen Institute does.”

Desiree believes in the importance of Indigenous representation in the media. Through CBC New Indigenous Voices, she made connections with Indigenous creators from across the country, forming bonds that will help her as she makes her way through the industry.

“Being an Indigenous woman – especially in an industry that is mostly male dominated – seeing all these people like me, doing what they’re doing and being able to connect with them, that environment is so amazing,” said Desiree.

Since graduating, Desiree plans to continue expanding her knowledge of the industry through her current role as production manager with Kejic Productions, owned by NSI alumna and program advisor Erica Daniels. She also acts as a video technical instructor with an after-school program for young people. Desiree hopes to one day become a mentor for up-and-coming creators like herself.

“CBC New Indigenous Voices is something that I hold in my heart,” said Desiree. “I will take everything that I learned through this program and better myself as an instructor for my students.”

Congratulations Holly, Desiree and the entire CBC New Indigenous Voices class of 2021! We are so happy to be part of your journey, and we can’t wait to celebrate all the achievements that lay ahead.

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CBC New Indigenous Voices 2021 was funded by Title, Presenting and Tuition Sponsor CBC; Program Partners Manitoba Sport, Culture & Heritage, the Centre for Aboriginal Human Resource Development (CAHRD), Telefilm Canada; Indigenous Training Programs Partner Directors Guild of Canada; Provincial Sponsors Manitoba Film & Music, Creative BC through the Daryl Duke and William Vince Scholarship Fund; Industry Supporters IATSE Local 856, imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival, Film Training Manitoba; Service Sponsors iSplice Films, Final Draft. NSI Core Funders are Manitoba Sport, Culture & Heritage and the City of Winnipeg through the Winnipeg Arts Council.

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