SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) – After studying TV broadcasting, this week's Jefferson Award Winner took a different path, teaching storytelling to empower people in underrepresented communities.
Arabella DeLucco gives free classes so minority, neurodiverse, and formerly incarcerated people can tell their own stories.
"It's really difficult sometimes to get heard, and so I wanted to focus on underrepresented voices and take the magic and the power that is storytelling and bring it to the people we serve," explained DeLucco, who founded WeXL in 2018.
The San Francisco-based nonprofit recruits professionals to teach storytelling using media and technology. Dozens of participants have produced podcasts, video shorts, TV shows, animated films, movies and more, often on social justice topics.
Fourth grade girls in New York created their own short films through WeXL's afterschool program on live video conferencing.
On this day, DeLucco invites a paid fellow to take part in scripting a show.
As a past fellow, Gabriella Deyi of Oakland produced a YouTube series on mental health as part of her public service last year as Miss Wisconsin.
"Mental health has been my biggest secret my entire life, because it's something my family struggled with but I never saw other people talk about it," Deyi said.
Deyi credits DeLucco with encouraging and teaching her to tell stories with empathy so she could reach others.
"She really celebrated that in me, that instilled so much confidence in who I am as a storyteller, so now when I come to a story, I bring my full self," said Deyi.
To fund its fellowships and free programs, WeXL gets paid to produce diversity-themed videos for corporate clients.
DeLucco's gift for helping people find and share their struggles inspires WeXL video editor Antonio Garro.
"I can see a passion that she has for these people and the stories that they have," Garro said.
DeLucco said if one person can connect and find healing through the stories, it's all worth it.
"They start seeing, 'Oh, wow, somebody does need my story, somebody can get inspired by it,'" she said.
For equipping underrepresented people with the media and technology skills to tell their own stories, this week's Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Arabella DeLucco.
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