Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect that Miela Fetaw is no longer employed with Black Lens. Her service with the organization ended Feb. 8 after the “Black women behind the lens” event.
Editor’s note: Milwaukee is filled with many ordinary people who do extraordinary things. This year, from time to time, NNS will briefly highlight individuals who are helping our community. To nominate your neighbor, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and put “Two to know” in the subject line.
Name: Miela Fetaw
Why she’s worth knowing: Fetaw served as the communications and press coordinator for Black Lens, a cultural pillar of Milwaukee Film. She recently moderated the “Black women behind the lens” event that took place Feb. 8. Fetaw also works with 371 Productions, a local film company, and is producing a feature documentary.
What she says: “It’s such a joy to work with an organization like Milwaukee Film and Black Lens as a program that appreciates women of color and women of color filmmakers. What I appreciate about women of color filmmakers, but in particular black women filmmakers, because I identify as a black woman, is just how we have normalized the presence of black women and women of color as equal and as equitable partners in storytelling, especially when it comes to telling creative and cinematic narratives about women of color. We do that in a way that a white male filmmaker cannot do and honestly does not do justice.”
What she loves about her job: “I’ve always been a storyteller, and I’m grateful that I’ve been able to tell stories since I was young in different mediums. Thanks to working at 371 Productions and working at Milwaukee Film as a Black Lens staff member, I’ve been introduced to storytelling in a different capacity and it happens to be film.”
What’s next for her: “One of my biggest aspirations in life is to write a successful and relatable romantic comedy that stars people of color. I’ve seen all the white ones and I feel like if I can relate to those and still find the beauty and the humor in love and in stories where characters don’t look anything like me, then we need to give a bigger platform for stories about women, vulnerable communities, about people of color, about black people and helping program events like Black Lens’ 2020 Black History Month events helps do that.”
Name: Sheri Williams Pannell
Why she’s worth knowing: Williams Pannell performs, directs, writes and teaches musical theater at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She has worked for many organizations in Milwaukee such as First Stage, The Florentine Opera, the Milwaukee Rep, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and Skylight Music Theater. She recently directed “The Gospel at Colonus” at Skylight Music Theater and also is the artistic director at the Bronzeville Arts Ensemble.
What she says: “I work with all people. If we want to tell the whole story, we have to include all the people. Even though there are stories that are centered around African American family and African American community, we live in a world with many different backgrounds and cultures. That is another gift of being a storyteller. Through theater, we have the opportunity to showcase humanity in all of its wonderful form on stage.”
What she loves about her job: “It is important to practice the craft that I have dedicated my life to. I am fulfilling my calling . . . especially to tell stories that uplift and have a redemptive quality to them, that inspire and encourage people. The arts help us to discover ourselves and to honor ourselves. I think we are obligated to give back to our communities. Whether we are teaching at the university or college or, as I do, volunteering at my church working with the drama ministry. It is important to give back to the community that has invested in you.”