Alexandra Roxo is a New York-based actor and director. Through her work Alexandra has reached out to women caught up in trafficking and in September 2011, she organized a Women in Film Career Night with an organization called GEMS (Girls Educational and Mentoring Services), which helps young women and girls who have been victims of sex trafficking and exploitation in the US.
Her first feature-length film Mary Marie, a film about the transition from girlhood to womanhood has been gaining popularity in the film festival circuit and won Best Cinematography at the Brooklyn Film Festival.
Kate Caroline meets with Alexandra to talk about her work, women, and film.
How did you become involved with GEMS?
A little over a year ago I started researching for a script I am developing about sex trafficking in New York. It’s such a weighted topic, so I knew I needed to learn a lot. I came across GEMS, which is the biggest and most well-known organization and happens to be in New York.
GEMS helps transition girls who have been exploited in the commercial sex trade domestically, which means they’re all American girls.
I think most people have this conception that trafficking is only of foreign women, Asian women or Eastern European women, but in reality it’s very prevalent in New York.
Would you classify yourself as a feminist filmmaker?
It’s hard, because the world ‘feminist’ means something so different now than it was at the beginning, which was just about equality.
I’m definitely still for equality and I think that, for example, the characters in Mary Marie aren’t really feminist, but they do they march to the beat of their own drum. My characters do their own thing which might be kind of weird or strange to others, their way of life, and I think that’s something that’s not outwardly feminist; they are simply themselves.
My work is pretty female oriented, it always has been. My experimental films are really symbolic about women, their transformation, and a lot of my photography has also been a lot about transformation.
What women’s issues would you most like to see highlighted in a film?
I’d like to see strong, interesting, dynamic female characters in the Hollywood and mainstream media.
In indie films there are a lot of really interesting female characters who tell important stories, and even on TV, they’re starting to become more prevalent, for example Nurse Jackie [from the TV show Nurse Jackie]. Still, especially for my age demographic, a lot of the girls are portrayed to be cute or sexy.
How do you think women as whole are portrayed in the film industry?
Things have gotten a lot better but more female stories need to be told that are not clichéd or stereotyped and that aren’t just white heteronormative stories.
How about in the industry, is there a unity among female directors?
Women need to support each other but sometimes there can be this competiveness as everyone struggles to get to the top. The only way that things are going to become more balanced is if we work together and support each other.
How do you incorporate travel into your work?
I just directed another fashion video that is going to be screening in Miami and I’m working on a few different scripts at the moment. One is an indie comedy and another I got inspiration from while I was in Prague that I’m really excited to write.
Check out Alexandra and her work at:www.alexandraroxo.com