Kelly O

"I feel like a mythic creature in the film and media industry as a woman of color," explains Tracy Rector, a filmmaker whose work as a producer, director, and cinematographer cannot be separated from her social activism as a person of color, a woman, and a member of the Native American community.

"Did you know that we account for only 1.6 percent of creatives in this field? And as I understand it, Indigenous people comprise .04 percent of filmmakers. It's insane. And unfortunate, because we have so much untapped talent and many, many stories yet to be told—ideas that I believe would inspire POC and non-POC alike that are universal yet from a fresh perspective. So with that, I firmly believe in working with as many women, women of color, and POC as possible while I mature as an artist."

And mature she has. Her most recent documentary, The Maiden of Deception Pass: Guardian of Her Samish People, is her best work to date. It's a rich blend of tribal history, water and landscape cinematography, and Pacific Northwest narrative realism. Art, however, is not sacrificed to politics—nor the other way around. With Rector, they work together and reinforce each other—this is not an easy thing to do. Most filmmakers can't strike this very difficult balance. "My main focus," she explains, "is to collectively move forward opportunities for POC-created cinema and art, which feels vitally necessary given the still entrenched everyday inequities that we face. For me, filmmaking and gathering in community are acts of rebellion and resistance!"recommended

Tracy Rector will be celebrated at the free Stranger Genius Awards party on September 24 at the Moore Theatre. Five artists will go home with $5,000 each, no strings attached, thanks to our generous sponsors. To see all 15 nominees this year, go to