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Meet Lori Webster of Hidden Gem Stories

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lori Webster.

So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I moved to LA from Kinston, North Carolina, fresh out of undergrad with dreams of making an impact in Hollywood. Little did I know how windy the road would be. My first production gig came by way of a fellow alumni in the reality TV world. I started as a Post PA, but within a year I segued to being an APOC in scripted TV. I had a mostly smooth run even in light of the writer’s strike but yearned for something more. As a freelancer, I enjoyed the ability to ‘change scenery’ from one show to the next but didn’t love my career being steered by the hunt for a paycheck rather than the quality of the content. As I inched further up the chain, I found myself buried deeper in paperwork but perpetually a shade removed from tapping into my creativity. Meanwhile, my desire to travel the world making socially conscious content only burned deeper by the day.

I transitioned from the television production office to the helm of content that moved me. I directed and produced an array of content for major nonprofits and humanitarian organizations, traveling the world over. Within a couple of years, I decided to further hone my craft by attending the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California. There I expanded my repertoire as a director and all-around filmmaker, learning key technical components and also picking up a passion for documentary filmmaking along the way.

Thereafter, I worked for major tech companies, creating digital content, facilitating the work of other content creators, and implementing groundbreaking programs and processes in the realm of e-learning. Last year I made my boldest move yet by transitioning from the stability of corporate life and tapping again into my freelance roots as an entrepreneur and independent filmmaker full time. Being my own boss has been both challenging and empowering. I’m eternally grateful for consistent work as a Director / Writer…even during a pandemic! My work has included a variety of streaming content, including documentary, topical videos, branded content, and virtual events. In addition, I’ve been working on a slate of scripted passion projects.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It’s not always been easy. The entertainment industry being a boys club is no secret, particularly behind the scenes, but I don’t let that stop me. Being uniquely me is a gift, and I embrace it. Though Black womanhood embodies a storied struggle, I choose not to let it hinder me. Instead, I use it as fuel. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been undermined, sidelined, or stereotyped, I’d be uber-rich. However, the wealth of experience that has come from my unique positioning in this world is priceless. It helps me to see through a lens that’s real. I have no choice but to be honest with myself because in a society that insists that I’m less than, I have to constantly remind myself that I am enough. I have a duty to leverage my gifts as the change I wish to see in the world. That said, I’ve come to fully embrace betting big on myself — fully and unapologetically.

Hidden Gem Stories – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Hidden Gem Stories is an independent production company committed to bringing light to marginalized narratives that are hidden in plain view. The goal is to center these ever present, unique perspectives while providing food for thought and a healthy launching point for discourse. As Director, my central mission is to do justice to the adventures (and perils) of the black experience on-screen with special emphasis on black womanhood. As givers of life (pun intended), it’s only right that black women get their day in the sun. Above all else, Hidden Gem Stories’s content is relevant, relatable, and above all else, real.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
The proudest moment of my career so far has been receiving positive affirmation from an audience that “gets it” and finds some aspect of my content to be impactful. That feeling never gets old.

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Image Credit:

Amphitheater and greenery shots by Johnny J. Jones (Zoë Pictures)

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