We had the good fortune of connecting with Katia Belas and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Katia, where are your from? We’d love to hear about how your background has played a role in who you are today?
I’m a Brazilian-American filmmaker. I was born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and moved to Los Angeles in my early 20s to extend my education in Film and Television production. Being from Brazil gave me the strength to fight for what I want. Although I came from a family with resources and peaceful living, life in Brazil is tough, if you don’t make things happen for you, you get crushed, betrayed, looked over, and end up living a life that is given to you but not a life that you want. Culturally, Brazilians have their special ways of fixing things, creating solutions, and molding the environment they are surrounded by. My roots as a Brazilian are what made me not look for the opportunities, but to create them for me. I’m a person who doesn’t trust everyone but gives space for them to prove that they are worthy of my trust.
I came from a very small family of lawyers, psychologists, and architects, and I inherited all of those interests and beliefs. I was taught not to disobey the law and treat everyone fairly. I became fascinated with the complexity of the mind, and how it plays tricks on everyone in so many different ways. And I acquire a passion for planning and building things, even if it is not an actual building, but putting the pieces of a project together feels like it. I found that all the interests that I have from my relatives are the key to my success right now. I believe that the mix of Brazilian culture and being raised in my family cause the impact that made me who I am now. A creative, honest, strong filmmaker who works especially with stories that open the conversation for issues in the society and with psychological themes.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
After a long 11 years hiatus, I went back to making films and setting a goal to open more opportunities to underrepresented artists and filmmakers like me. I worked exclusively with Deaf artists at first, then branched out to women, LGBTQIA, Latinx, and African Americans. It is rare to see an able straight white man on my set, although I don’t avoid the majority, it (the majority type) is just the minority members of any film I work on. With the support of my family, I set up a non-profit organization that is dedicated to expose, train, and create new work for members of ANY minority group and I’m proud of the work we are developing with it.
I have to thank all the people who were involved in my films when I first returned to the industry, without their help I wouldn’t be where I am now. Filmmaking is teamwork, and I was lucky to have great teams working with me on each project. It wasn’t easy to find good people willing to help, but when I did, I made sure to keep them close and reciprocate all their kindness as much I could. There are always many challenges in any beginning; funds, knowledge, reliability, quality among others, but I believe that the way to move forward to achieve what you are set for is to invest in yourself and learn what you can as you go without letting any mistakes keeping you from moving forward.
I’m a firm believer that we, artists/filmmakers, are the voices for the good of the people. We have the duty to bring to light all kinds of misunderstanding, discriminations, crimes, understandings about all illnesses, family dilemmas, etc to the wider public and help the world to understand those themes/issues better through our eyes with our work. Films (and all types of arts and entertainments) can tell stories that call for action, open conversation, make an impact on society to help the people in the world have a better informed and understandable view on living life, and creating more peace. I’m here to do my part to make a difference for a better future.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
For a normal week my itinerary would contain, Venice Beach Boardwalk, Santa Monica Pier, Walk of Fame, Warner Brothers or Paramount Studio Tour, Cheesecake Factory, Sunset Strip, Rodeo Drive, find out what theatre play or musical had good reviews and go to watch it, Sky Bar or Abbeys.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Grandma Bertha and Grandpa Edgard were the biggest supporters in my life. As the first grandchild and only granddaughter, they were there for me as my second parents, helping me out (or maybe helping my parents) getting me to classes, making my lunch and dinner, being there for me. But most of all, they were there whenever I made a decision that would impact my life and lifestyle. Whether the decision was right or wrong, they made sure that I wouldn’t give up on it because if it was right, they would be by my side celebrating it, and if it was wrong they would be by my side making sure that I would learn from my mistakes but not losing hopes (or focus) to achieve my ultimate goals.
Katia Belas, KMB Entertainment, Hong Kong Association of the Deaf