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  • Writer's pictureAllan Shedlin

The Impact and Inspiration of "Daughters"

Guest Post by Angela Patton

Girls For A Change CEO & Co-Director, Sundance Film Fest Award-Winning Film, Daughters

EDITOR'S NOTE: When we first learned about the film Daughters late last year, we knew we'd love to have it as part of our 2024 Daddying Film Festival & Forum (D3F) in any way we could. Our mission of promoting the importance of lifelong dad involvement with their children, both in their presence and absence, is perfectly reflected in this award-winning documentary that's since gone on to win multiple festival awards, including at Sundance, and inked a well-deserved deal with Netflix. We are honored to host a special live screening of this excellent film this Friday, May 17, at the 2nd annual Daddying Film Forum in Philadelphia at the Parkway Central Free Library. Angela will introduce her film and participate in an audience Q&A after being introduced by her dad, Harry Walker.

Angela regards her father as her ultimate hero, citing his profound influence in instilling values and morals in her. In her words, her father's heart, full of love for his church, community, and family has deeply inspired her own journey. The following post was Angela's "director's statement" she provided with the submission of her film, Daughters, to this year's D3F. On the eve of the Philly Forum, we thought it most appropriate to share with our readers with her permission:

As Founder of Camp Diva Leadership Academy and CEO of Girls for A Change, my mission is to prepare young Black girls for the world, and the world for young Black girls, by providing opportunity access. Our film, or rather our movement, as I call it, is part of that mission.

I had the opportunity to do a TED Talk on a specific program that came from the minds of young girls who wanted to invite their fathers into their lives on their own terms, through having a dance. That program is now known as Date With Dad. After my TED Talk, I was approached by many filmmakers to make a movie, a book, a documentary...but I was nervous about that. I didn't know the industry and had my own reservations about being part of making a film and exposing the people I mentor to that industry.

When Natalie Rae reached out to me to film the dance and the story, she was the first and only female filmmaker out of more than 50 people that had contacted me to film this story. I wanted to be open to hear what she had to say. I appreciated that Natalie came to me to learn more about our work at Girls For A Change, and she was open to just listen. Natalie and I connected on the most important level: she cared about the girls, first and foremost, and wanted to do anything she could to help have their voices heard.

Just because a father is locked in, does not mean he should be locked out of his daughter's life.

There have been tears, hard conversations, and much growth and discovery to make this film together, and ultimately, we both had to be open. Open to listen, learn, and evolve. The people in this film, both as subjects and those who worked on it, understand how strong the trust, collaboration, and unity has been for this movement. Some people call this a project, I call it a movement, because this film is a part of helping to make change for young black girls and create an impact by reaching beyond.

I have been working with Natalie for 7 years now, and we have overcome many obstacles in our efforts to help tell these girls' stories, and reinforce the need for change. That is what unites us. We have the joint mission to help support these young girls. We invite audiences to challenge themselves to be a part of this movement and create the change we all want to see in our communities.

We'd like to thank the families and DC Department of Corrections for sharing and partnering with us. This would not be possible without them. We are grateful for their trust and commitment in joining us in the movement for change to support and strengthen families of the incarcerated.


Daddying Film Forum in Philadelphia, May 17-18

FREE passes to both days of our 2nd Annual LIVE Daddying Film Forum in Philadelphia, May 17 and 18, are available now! The live Forum will bring children/youth together with their Dads/Dad figures and families to examine thoughts, feelings, and insights in response to selected D3F films. Attendees will express those responses through Q&A discussion and other creative means.

Forum Day 1, Friday, May 17th, from 4-8pm at the Parkway Central Free Library will feature screenings of this year's Atticus Award-winning student, dad-created finalist films, and a special presentation of the 2024 Sundance Film Festival’s Audience Award winner for best U.S. documentary and winner for Festival Favorite, DaughtersWe are excited that Girls For A Change founder Angela Patton will be there with both her parents, introduce her film, and participate in a post-screening Q&A!

Day 2, Saturday, May 18th, 10am to 3pm at the iconic Mummers Museum, the Forum will present a selection of D3F 2024 short and feature film Atticus Award winners and finalists! Attendees also will have access to the museum. Snacks and beverages will be available at both Philly Forum events.

So, if you're in the Philadelphia area this weekend, we hope you'll join us for one or both free Daddying Film Forum events – Daddy on!


Angela Patton is the Founder of Camp Diva Leadership Academy and CEO of Girls For A Change (GFAC). Angela graduated from Meadowbrook Highschool in North Chesterfield, VA, in 1990. In 2010, she was recognized by the local Richmond, VA, press as Top 40 Under 40, named by President Obama in 2016 as a White House Champion of Change, received the Nonprofit Partner of the Year in 2018 & 2022 from the Metropolitan Business League, and was the Richmond Times-Dispatch 2019 Person of the Year Honoree. In 2022, Angela was recognized by The International Alliance for Women as a World of Difference Award winner in the Non-Profit/NGO Awardees category. In 2023, she was honored with the Grace E. Harris Leadership Award from the Virginia Commonwealth University L. Douglas Wilder School of Government & Public Affairs.

Angela is an Ambassador for who she calls “at-promise” (as opposed to “at-risk”) girls and a serial innovator committed to “Preparing Black girls for the world, and the world for Black Girls.”

Angela’s TEDWomen Talk describing a father-daughter dance for incarcerated dads and their daughters has been viewed over 1,000,000 times, to date. This talk and her ongoing work inspired the documentary, Daughters, in which she served as Co-Director, Producer, and Executive Producer. The documentary follows the lives of four young girls who prepare for a dance with their incarcerated fathers as part of the rehabilitation program Date With Dad Weekend. It premiered at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival, winning two Awards: Festival Favorite and Audience Choice: U.S. Documentary, and landing a deal with Netflix. Look for it on the streaming platform later this year.

Angela has been an in-demand speaker at conferences, colleges, and universities throughout the country. She is also a published author, co-authoring Finding Her Voice: How black girls in white spaces can speak up & live their truth, with Faye Z. Belgrave, PhD, and Ivy Belgrave. The book is available on Amazon, Target, and at many small, Black-owned bookstores nationwide.

Angela is a member of SisterFund and still finds time to serve on the board of Orchard House Middle School for Girls, volunteer for various organizations, and serve as a technical assistance consultant with MENTOR Virginia. When she isn’t inspiring change, advocating for gender equality, and empowering girls, she is hanging with her family, enjoying festivals and concerts with her husband and motivator, Adofo Ka-Re and their loving children, Imhotep and Asani.


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