We had the good fortune of connecting with Jhad Villena and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jhad, how do you define success?
When you leave a room, are you leaving the room in a better state than when you found it? And are you leaving the room in such a state that the next person after you will have the necessary groundwork and tools to do an even better job with it than you did? In the broadest terms, that’s how I measure success.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
In America, I feel immensely privileged to live in a society that tries to treat a plurality of viewpoints and opinions as a public virtue. I see my role as an artist to contribute to that collective dialogue – but visually, through the mediums of photo and video. I strongly believe that clashing together a wide range of people, stories, and cultures from all sections and corners of modern life is necessary to build better understanding with one another – across borders, across walls, and across generations.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’m a Filipino-American filmmaker and photographer with a documentarian edge to my output. This means that I work at the intersection of both entertainment industry and activist / community organizing spaces. As a result, across this city and this state and beyond, I’ve found and nurtured relationships with a diverse plurality of communities, backgrounds, and causes. I feel very privileged to call such a wide range of people my friends, colleagues, and collaborators. People and groups immediately significant to what I do and why I do it include: TAMARIND, a Dallas-based collective of filmmakers I’ve worked with since my college years. Malaya Movement and NAFCON and ICHRP, which are Filipino-American human rights groups I work with on publicity and lobbying fronts. Oak Cliff Film Festival and Texas Theatre programmer Parker D. May. Dallas filmmakers German Torres, Noel Matthew, and Daniel Laabs. Dallas organizer and entertainer Gage Tijerina. LA filmmakers Dalton Ibarra and Ciara Boniface. Austin filmmaker Kellan Di Donato and photographer Kelly Rice. NYT journalist Haley Willis. The important names go on and some I’m unable to publicly mention, but for brevity’s sake, the list must end at some point.
All images shot by Jhad Villena.