Since I was a small girl I loved movies and as I got older I appreciated how these stories connected all of us. People love stories, we always have. We all tell them. Even when our own personal stories could be so different, there was always a thread, something that could connect us, a shared thread of humanity that’s very real and that’s very present even in make-believe stories. We crave stories, so we can connect.

I feel comradery with Carrie in more ways than one, but definitely in that there isn’t just one person specifically to look up to, there isn’t just one person out there doing exactly what I want to do either. But after only a short time speaking with Carrie, she is somebody to admire, to be inspired by. And if you asked me, I think that she has a great sense of that connecting thread, of what makes a story stick with you, she connects. Both in her stories and in her life.

Tell me. Where did you go to film school? Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Shreveport, Louisiana and I went to Emerson college in Boston. One day I saw a flyer for Emerson’s film school. I was like, “You could learn television and film, it’s something you could do?” It was always something I had wanted to do, so I applied and I got in. Emerson was the kind of place where on day one I had a camera in my hand. It was awesome.

Who or what was an influence on you growing up that inspired you to be a filmmaker, besides the flyer?

Besides the flyer. I always had a love of Southern authors and Southern literature. Early on I became fascinated with writing and storytelling, and I was inspired by writers like Alice Walker, Eudora Welty, Ralph Ellison and F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. I wanted to take the richness and humanity in stories like theirs and bring them to life somehow. Also, I think that growing up I saw things on TV and in movies that I didn’t see in my daily life. I wanted to bring a different voice.

It sounds like you have the explorer tendency to see what’s different and what’s out there in the world?

Definitely. I was always the one who wanted to go out and explore the world. After school, I lived in London for many years and loved traveling and working all over the world. It was definitely breaking the mold or the norm to do these things. When I told my parents I wanted to go to school in Boston, they were like, “Why would you do that? You’ll need a coat!” But they came around and were eventually very supportive because they knew I was following my passion.

So, what was the first film set that you were on? What was that like?

Well when I was really little my aunt had worked at the local TV station in Louisiana and they were doing a local furniture commercial. I might have been like six years old, but they put me in the commercial. I was the Sun Furniture girl and I wore big sun rays around my face. I recited this whole thing about coming to shop at Sun. It was just me on a stool saying this to the camera and I just remember being terrified. Let’s just say that was the end of my on camera career.

What was your own first film project like? Were you always trying to direct or was there something else that you started out doing?

I wanted to be a screenwriter, so I spent most of my energy writing and rewriting and getting rejected and realizing that I wasn’t meant to sit in a room by myself and type all day, I was better working with people and creating what was in my mind. So I went out and made a short film many years ago. It was terrible but I learned a lot!

Oh. I want to hear about how terrible it was. We can see how far you’ve come!

It will demonstrate that. It was a comedy about trying to find Sandra Bullock in Austin, there was a running joke that she had moved into town and there were “Sandra sightings” everywhere. My sister lives there and looks a little bit like her, so she would often get approached by people. So, it was a family joke too. We ran around town trying to find her and mostly just got thrown out of places. We went to a local BBQ joint and they were like, “She comes here all the time. You just missed her.”  It was really interesting because we met a lot of different types of people. I did learn the nuances of documentary-style filmmaking and capturing great characters. It was so silly, though.

Who do you look up to, professionally?

That’s a good question. Who I look at professionally is interesting because it’s not just one person, because there haven’t been a lot of people, at least as a woman, that’s doing what I want to do. Now there’s Patty Jenkins and Kathryn Bigelow, of course. There are so many talented people out there doing amazing work, but I don’t want to copy them. I want to be me and have a unique voice.  

What was a turning point in your career? Or when you decided you wanted to Direct rather than only Write?

As a writer, I always felt like you create and then you hand it off, but I saw my brother-in-law writing feature films, then making them and my cousin is a film director. Seeing them have success, I realized that maybe this is something that I can do. I think that some of my prior doubts about whether I could do this work came down to being female in the industry. But the story background that I got from focusing on screenwriting for so long really has helped me and I’ve had some wonderful opportunities at VIMBY, in particular, to go out and direct stories that allowed me to grow as a filmmaker.

What was one of the most memorable, touching stories you’ve worked on?

The Kleenex Cares campaign had so many of them. We were often in situations where we were creating a life-changing moment for people. The chef at the firehouse in Florida… Chef Rob was particularly memorable because he’s someone who had struggled for so long and he was so passionate about helping other people. We were there to do something good for him and it meant more to him than I ever could have imagined. And then that video went viral like many of the others.

But then World News Tonight invites him on set to be the man of the week. He was calling me from backstage and in the taxi. I was practically with him the whole way by phone. He was so excited and it made me so happy to have gone to work one day and made a lasting impact on someone’s life.

As a filmmaker, what are some of your best tips for being on set?

Don’t forget to drink water. I get so busy and so focused that I don’t eat or drink. That’s not good. It’s a physical job. You have to nourish yourself.

What’s a great kind of moment on set, maybe a moment you’ve had?

When everybody’s working as a team trying to get the shot. And everybody is on board to go the extra mile and get it. This shoot I was on recently, we were in a blizzard. It was freezing. The gear was freezing up, our toes were frozen but everybody was in it. We went out in the snow. We’d warm up and then we’d go back out until we captured our shot. That was fun. As a team.

What are some of the challenges with pursuing the dream? What would you let people know?

It can be a hard job and you have to make sacrifices. There are ups and downs and instability. I think you shouldn’t do it if you don’t feel intensely moved to do something like this because it’s a challenge.

Do you have any advice for young, aspiring female filmmakers?

Aww, $**T. How do I start? I say this as advice for myself too, believe in yourself. I know it seems cliché but I also have to remind myself of that. It is particularly hard to do that when you’re a little bit younger, when you’re new. It’s easy to be intimidated when you have a bunch of people telling you you can’t shoot something that way or you should do it differently. Or trying to make some of the millions of decisions you have to make in a day. There’s not necessarily a right answer. If you’re directing, it’s your vision you’re trying to create. What everybody’s there to do on the day is to create your vision, so believe in that and go with it.

So, what’s up next for you?

I’m doing this great campaign with Cheerios and Walmart’s One Million Moments of Good. Somehow I’ve become the surprise expert. I have literally directed every single kind of surprise you can do and I love it. What’s fun about these is they’re all moments of giving help to people in need. As someone who has worked in reality TV, I thrive on creating actual real moments in which people are genuinely moved. Gosh, what a nice way to spend your day and then you make someone’s day brighter.

What is your dream job?

My dream job is to … I would like to direct a feature film. However, I am enjoying doing short format at the moment. I like that more people see something I made that’s on the internet than the amount of people who watch Monday Night Football. I just want to keep telling stories any way that I can.

You also have a daughter? Anything special you do for her?

Sometimes I’ll leave a little sticky note or something in her lunchbox that with positive messages like “You could be anything you want to be.” I don’t know if she even knows what that means yet but one day she will and I can’t wait to see her fly.