With great wifi comes great responsibility— and in true New York fashion, Kim Hoyos rises to the challenge. Her website (and IRL company!) The Light Leaks changes the game and works to adjust our media’s landscape so that we can all look at screens and find something to relate to that isn’t the same five white guys over and over (and over) again. The diversification of film is here, and your friendly neighborhood filmmaker is on the case.
Pretty Thing: Since you’re a PT OG, we’re all big TLL fans here. Can you give us a crash course on The Light Leaks for the first-timers?
Kim Hoyos: The Light Leaks is a company for the education, inspiration, and empowerment of female and gender-nonconforming filmmakers. Our editorial website showcases work by rising filmmakers, interviews with established filmmakers, features think pieces about the intersections of identity and media, and help guides! Additionally, we host various events to connect with our online community offline. From film screenings and meet-ups to workshops and panels, we aim to create career conversations, networking opportunities, and chances for support through community.
We love that community is such a focus for TLL, because we’re the same way at PT. Community is such a major part of filmmaking, and the media industry as a whole— to the point where it becomes exclusive, and leaves people like us fighting each other for opportunities instead of working together to lift each other up. What initiatives are you working on at TLL to counteract that?
I'm working towards creating more offline events, especially in different cities, that tackle career struggles, creativity, and provide actionable steps for female and GNC filmmakers. I'm also working to expand video content on TLL's youtube page to supplement the editorial site. I'd love to also make the Light Leaks into a full-fledged production company that gives grants to female and GNC created work. I see this taking shape in ~5 years, so I'm taking my time building up the community, brand recognition, and online footprint.
We love a five-year plan— seriously, I’m swooning into my meticulously highlighted personal calendar. Building a successful business takes w-o-r-k. When it comes to the brand you’re developing, what do you think stands out the most?
Ya girl is SELF-MADE!!! Identity is such a crucial part of my work and the work I advocate for, and I'm very proud to be a first gen Latina daughter of immigrants. I approach everything with a really intense work ethic inherited from my parents; I [even] run the Light Leaks essentially alone. When I started it out of my college dorm room [during] my junior year, I really wanted to keep things close to heart until I understood completely how daily operations are like, etc. I still run social, editorial copy, event planning, outreach and more. But now, I hire freelancers for any random design needs— and I just took on a student intern for the spring to help out with assorted admin, PR, and social tasks.
I think being 23, and a minority woman, really is something important. A lot of young women reach out to me asking for creative or professional advice. I work to make time for them to answer questions, and to serve as the representation that I didn't see as a young person.
We definitely missed that kind of representation when we were growing up and finding our way. Even now, learning from peers is a huge (and underestimated) resource. As one of our faves doin’ the most, do you have any wisdom to pass on to other women in film?
It was sometimes very stressful to manage interning 3 days a week in NYC, going to school full-time in NJ, and starting my company. I loved it so much because it was a test of endurance, but it was also at times extremely stressful. More recently, I've found it a huge challenge for myself to set boundaries, understand what my body and brain need, and to work with my mental health issues. I'm very critical of myself and can get critical of how others may perceive me if I'm not completely open with my time, schedule, or emotional labor. I don't want to be seen as a dragon boss lady. I don't want to be a bitch. But it's also difficult to face people genuinely abusing your time and kindness. I've run into so many issues with well-meaning young people not understanding the value of time, patience, or respect. I'm open, and I work to help others because that's who I am as a person. But that shouldn't be pushed. I'm working to not feel bad at saying 'no' when I'm stressed or prioritizing my personal relationships over other things. I set boundaries by directing anyone who DMs me business things to email me. I love email. I hate DMs. I work to get off my phone more when I'm with my family, friends, or boyfriend. They deserve me to be totally present and so do I.
I currently work a full-time job during the day, and work on TLL at night and on the weekends. I work to keep myself healthy, fulfilled, and full of gratitude. I do this by praying, meditating, doing productive things that entirely for myself and not my full-time or TLL (ie, a weekly tv writing class I've been doing), exercising, going to therapy, reading lots, and indulging in skincare. I'm also beginning to journal.
Yesss, journaling is soooo liberating. I stopped trying to keep a journal back in middle school, but Middle School Me knew what was up! It’s way healthier to put your feelings on a page over twitter thread. Saves a lot of anxiety, too. Could more young women benefit from some of that same space? Or is there a larger issue holding them back?
I feel that young women in entrepreneurship don't believe in the value of their own ideas. It causes them to sometimes not fully develop concepts. When you've been doubted by society, and have internalized those restrictions— even your dreams can have limitations. That can be a matter of not fleshing out concepts because you think they'll fail, or even not seeing value in your own unique story. I feel that a lot of women I encounter, especially WOC, count themselves out before they can even try. They don't apply to jobs they could be qualified for, they don't see their craft as anything but a hobby, they don't know how to brand themselves for work, and it affects them greatly. This is obviously not the case of every WOC in media or entrepreneurship but it is a trend I see. I think everyone needs to see people who look like them succeed. No matter the field. For me, Diane Guerrero was the first time a Colombian celebrity in US media spoke to me. I read her book and saw my life in her journey. I felt understood, even though she's an actress. It means a lot to know that people from your background can make it. And I think open conversations about difficulties in your journey, sharing actionable steps to success, and truly hyping yourself up for who you are and what you do could really help. Of course, systematic changes in hiring practices, too, but that's a whole other story.
Media has so much more color and diversity in it now, even if we’re still only beginning to break down barriers. Is there any woman (or women!) right now that really speaks to like Diane did?
Obsessed with Stephanie Beatriz. She was born in Argentina and is the daughter of a Colombian father and Bolivian mother. She plays Rosa Diaz on Brooklyn 99 and has used her role and platform to discuss her bisexuality, stance on immigration, and more. I love her so much. I can't even begin to explain the unique issues that Latinx people in the LGBTQ community face in regards to stigma, potential religious backlash, and cultural norms. She is incredible.
Right now I'm [also] really loving Julia Michael’s new EP "Inner Monologue Part 1". She has a very dreamy vibe and her lyrics are honest. It feels like a conversation with a friend. "Happy" by her is on repeat. In regards to designers, Black Lamb Studio is one of my fav designers right now- her IG is incredible. It's filled with bright patterns and cute illustrations.
Don’t even get me started on Stephanie! Especially with her recent #MeToo episode of B99, and her thoughtful conversation with Terry Crews about that whole mess he got into on Twitter. She really is out here doing the work. But so are you! What can we direct our readers to you and The Light Leaks for?
[We’re] a website to highlight the work and careers of female and GNC filmmakers—it's not like a production company or anything where people pay in order for a service to be done. We have an online store to support content for the site, filmmakers can submit their work to be featured, people can watch work off of the site. Generally, it’s a normalization of women and GNC filmmakers in this space.
A space that is hella needed and much deserved. And as if that’s not enough, we hear you have a goodie for our PT Collective!
We recently launched an incredibly adorable (if I do say so myself) enamel pin with help from Bianca of Bianca Designs. This pin means a ton to me because “Invest in yourself” is my personal mantra. For me it covers all the intersections of self-love, self-acceptance, and self-care.
Use the code PTDISCOUNT at checkout for 10% off the pin and all other items at thelightleaks.com/online-shop!
The code expires on April 26th, 2019, so now is the time to get your hands on some adorable pins and feminist-fash bags.