We had the good fortune of connecting with Charles Gray and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Charles, we’d love to start by asking you about lessons learned. Is there a lesson you can share with us?
The most important lesson that I’ve learned throughout my career is that *listening* can be your most valuable superpower. Valuing the needs of the person you are serving or collaborating with can help take the ego out of the process—a lesson I had to learn by failing upward. Sometimes, we need to listen to what is not being said just as much as what is. This industry is built in the art of collaboration and everyone comes with their own upbringing and backstory. So whether I’m directing a music video for an artist, writing with a partner, or producing a commercial for a car company, having that open communication between their brand and mine can be the impetus of the great art that you have to realize this world will and always need.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am a crybaby for Jollibee commercials, when two different animals become friends, and the gushy endings of a good Rom-com. This curse is the fuel that leads to the creativity I yield in creating the stories for my films and projects that keep me busy professionally. I am most excited about my first feature film that I am writing with my good friend and writing partner, Dawn Anderson. We meet up regularly through facetime to watch films that inspire us to help build the world of our film and develop our characters. I am the director of digital content at Character Media, and I now teach film editing to film students at Cypress College. I love everything that I do and I believe that passion is the main ingredient to excelling in this business. I want to be part of a newwave of storytellers that help tell the stories that have been lacking in pop culture and media—diverse stories from diverse storytellers and other BIPOC voices that can show the world that there is beauty in all shapes and sizes dwelling in every corner, if you just dig deep enough to hear them with an open mind.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would take the homies to my favorite Filipino restaurants in Los Angeles like “Tatang” in North Hollywood (home of the best Halo Halo). “Cafe 86” for Filipino Dessert (home of the godly Ube Truffle. Yuumm-town). B Sweet (home of the heavenly Ube Bread Pudding). Then for late night drinks and a good time, Wolf & Crane Bar in Little Tokyo (Taco trucks around the corner to follow).
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’d like to dedicate my shoutout to all the Filipinx Filmmakers and FilAm Creatives out there. Mabuhay!
“aquamarine papaya” photograph by Kaitlyn Fae