Smart, charming and down-to-earth, newly-appointed Commissioner Anne del Castillo, a Filipino American born and raised in New York City, graciously gave me time from her hectic day for a phone chat recently. The back story is that she’s determined and focused to succeed in her new role with a mission aimed at giving more job opportunities in media and entertainment to the underrepresented: women and minorities.
Zooming into Anne’s career, I discovered she has over 20 years’ experience in film production, public media, arts, and nonprofit administration. As vice president of development and business affairs at American Documentary, producer of the award-winning Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) documentary series POV, Anne secured $3 million annually in grants and contracts, and negotiated partnerships with Netflix and theatrical distributors to maximize distribution among independent documentaries.
Anne has been omniscient in all aspects – she has seen and known nearly everything occurring in both the production and programming side of media. Plus, she’s had the benefit of working at the MOME agency for five years.
“I’ve had firsthand experience in understanding what it’s like to work in the industry. I have worked in both sides – production and programming.”
She has worked in indie film production – handling script supervision, directing both narrative and documentary films.
In programming, she worked in the best of PBS – reviewing programs for possible air on broadcast; and worked on outreach campaigns. These have given her an understanding of the challenges – what it takes to mount a day of production in the city, challenges for funding and the like.
Last year, she helped launched the Women’s Fund for Media and Theatre – a $5-million funding for film, TV and theatre productions led by women. This has a wide scope of artistic ventures – from documentaries, web series, and now expanded to include the music industry addressing songwriters, engineers, all-female endeavors. The funding cycle plans to open this summer.
“New York City is the first to provide funding to women for these ventures. We want to increase female representation. It is long overdue.”
Like a perfect scene in film, Anne is right on cue at this point in her career.
“It amazes me most that I am in a position to serve my hometown, New York City where I was raised. I have dedicated myself to be in a pivotal position. I am grateful because this city has shaped me.”
Anne’s energy is infectious, “Every day brings a new adventure. When I wake up, I check emails then drop off my son at school. I go straight to the office. I am running from that point on.”
“We meet with people from film, television, theatre, music, publishing and digital content creators. I meet with fellow commissioners to see if we can collaborate.”
Behind-the-scenes, Anne keeps a balance in her personal life with self-care, like a good run and yoga.
“Food is much a part of our culture.” Sometimes she eats rice for breakfast especially if it’s a Filipino meal with eggs. Her weekends are spent with family and friends.
Up close, Anne revealed her mother is her rock and the light of her life is her son. Her Visayan mother immigrated to the United States at the height of the nurses’ recruitment in the 1960s. Anne grew up in New York City, within a five-block radius of the Stuyvesant area. She went to a Catholic high school then on to Boston University for a BS in Mass Communications and a BA in English, graduating with honors. To Anne, this was her path to a law degree. She earned her JD at Brooklyn Law School and was honored with a Rising Star Award in 2017.
“My mother created a family for me, from friends and colleagues. I had a family drawn for me from friendships. After college, I re-ignited family relationships in the Philippines with cousins. I have the best of both worlds. I am blessed.”
Anne credits her mother. “Mom instilled in me to value respect for the family. There is that openness with my mom. We are very close. She is proud of my new job. “
She attributes her work ethic to having been raised by a single mother. “I would not have had a successful journey if my mother had not pushed as hard as she did. “
“Community, friends and family are critical. You cannot do it alone,” Anne added.
On a personal level, Anne expressed gratitude: “I appreciate the recognition from the Filipino community. It means a lot to me.”
In her new role, Anne’s vision is for more inclusivity and diversity in jobs for New Yorkers in media and entertainment. Her focus: opportunities for women and minorities. She aims to lead innovation and to cement NYC as a global leader in augmented reality – using computer-generated images with a user’s view resulting in a composite image. As well as in virtual reality – computer-generated simulation of three-dimensional images interacted in a seemingly physical way. And realizing that the city has provided over 130,000 jobs in the industry, she’d like NYC to remain a leader in television production.
Anne framed her vision well, “This is not a typical job. I move in media and entertainment. There are expectations of media, as well as my role in the service of people in the industry. It requires mindfulness.”
Fast forward to today, Anne said, “I have the best job in the city government. If my day is not going well, I take a walk, take a breath and clear my head. I take stock of what may have gone wrong and understand what led to setbacks. There is always a way forward. You just have to try.”
Elizabeth Ann Quirino, based in New Jersey is a journalist and author of the “Instant Filipino Recipes: My Mother’s Philippine Food In a Multicooker Pot” Cookbook. She is a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals and blogs about Filipino home cooking on her site AsianInAmericaMag.com.
More articles from Elizabeth Ann Quirino