Naja Pham Lockwood

Naja Pham Lockwood is the Founder and CEO of RYSE Media which supports stories of diverse voices and an investor in Impact Partners Films. Naja has produced multiple documentary and narrative films focusing on social justice issues including 76 Days, Try Harder!, Coming Home Again, Gook and Cries From Syria. She is an Assistant Instructor at University of Utah, lecturing on The Power of Storytelling: Asia and Global Cinema. Board member of The Utah Film Commission, the Center for Asian America Media (CAAM),  Utah Governor's Workforce Services for Refugees, and serving on Committees for the H4A Advocacy for Ethnic Studies and Asian American Studies at Harvard University,  The Coalition for Diverse Harvard and  mentorship within Harvard University Alumni Association of Utah and HBS. 

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Describe your passion for Film.

My work in film combines a love for storytelling with a commitment to social justice. Storytelling entertains, educate and inspires us. It has the power to change the way we think about ourselves, our world and its people. As a refugee, I fled from war-torn Vietnam to the United States when I was a young girl. You cannot imagine the love I felt as a child for America and for these giant American officers who came and rescued us, lifting so many frightened people on to their giant ship and handing us starving kids chocolate bars and fruits. Part of my  mission in life is to help others through telling stories, giving a voice to the voiceless and tell that story that has not been told. The medium I chose is film.  I continue to believe that we can transform our culture through the power of storytelling.

How have you been involved in the Arts, Media and Film?

I've been in the industry since 1997. Prior to relocating to Park City, I was an Arts Commissioner of San Francisco, sworn in by Mayor Willie Brown and then Mayor Gavin Newsom, focusing on fundraising and community outreach. In addition, I was a Trustee of the San Francisco Asian Art Museum, working on the successful $170m capital campaign. Upon arriving to Park City, I was appointed to the Sundance Advisory Board and to the Utah Film Commission. I also co-created the Sundance Screenwriters Fellowships for Asian American filmmakers, lecture at the University of Utah on Asian and Global Cinema and promote Asian filmmakers as a Trustee of the Center for Asian American Media. I have been an investor through Impact Partners Films, which supports documentaries that enrich and ignite social change. Through Impact Partners Film, we have launched the careers of many young filmmakers. 

What is your current work now?

In this moment of racial awareness with the goals of racial inclusion and equity in the entertainment industry, I am working to promote authentic stories from filmmakers of color through raising funds, whether in the form of grants or equity, for specific projects as EP.  I am also furthering my career in production. There is not only one road for a woman but many roads. And it's what she decides as her priorities throughout her journey in life.  As I move towards a new chapter in my life, I am excited to also venture further into producing and focus on telling my own stories as an American, a woman and a Vietnamese refugee.