Tani Ikeda '05

Filmmaker Tani Ikeda ’05 devoted most of 2017 to executive producing and directing a documentary TV series in collaboration with the co-founder of Black Lives Matter, Patrisse Cullors. That series, Resist, will be premiering in 2018. Prior to that project, she directed both the pilot and final episodes of the Emmy award-winning TV series Wonder Women. Both of these projects reflect Tani’s passion for exposing injustice and breaking down stereotypes.

“My favorite part of filmmaking is to be able to listen through my camera lens,” says Tani, who, in 2010, was named one of the 25 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World by the Utne Reader, and in 2018, was selected as a Sundance Screenwriters Intensive Fellow. “Film is such a powerful medium to convey important messages.”

Tani, who holds a B.A. from the University of Southern California in Cinematic Arts and Film Production, creates narratives, documentaries, music videos, and commercial films. Her documentary work, A Vigilant Love, following Muslim American organizers after the Muslim Ban, was featured in the Los Angeles Times.

In addition to shooting and directing her own films, Tani is committed to training young women to empower themselves through media. In 2008, at the age of 21, she co-founded imMEDIAte Justice, a free, hands-on film production and media literacy training program for high-school girls in Los Angeles. Along with NWS alumnae Laney Rupp ’05, and colleague Sylvia Raskin, Tani set out to address pervasive negative portrayals of women in mainstream media. “We dared to ask: What would happen if women told the truth about their lives?” reveals Tani.

To date, imMEDIAte Justice has worked with over 1,000 youth and piloted programs across the U.S. and in Uganda, India, and China. Girls receive mentorship from film industry professionals, and gain on-set experience learning to write, direct, and film their own stories through a feminist lens. Says Tani, “If you want to see more women behind the camera win at the Oscars, start by investing in girls.”

As a filmmaker, the ability to think critically is an essential and valuable tool – a tool that Tani says she developed while a student at Northwest. “Even early on, as a student, I was learning to think for myself. In Humanities, we brought in newspaper articles and discussed the underlying messages we were being fed in the news and teachers asked us to form our own opinions,” recalls Tani. “Deconstructing the messages within the media and creating my own meaning is something I will use for the rest of my life.”

Tani was grateful to have learned from Paul Raymond while he was still alive. She valued how he made history come alive by talking about his own personal evolution. “Paul talked about what it was like being a poor, conservative, young, Midwestern white soldier in the Korean War, fighting alongside Black soldiers who he would later support during the Civil Rights movement, despite his family members’ bewilderment,” remembers Tani. “After he got arrested and his sister asked him, ‘Why do you have to cause such a mess?’ Paul said, ‘When I see injustice, I have to stand.’”