The Casperian That Won An Emmy: Meet Alessandra Freitas

Alessandra Freitas, 23, graduated in Journalism at Cásper Líbero and getting a master’s degree in Digital Journalism at New York University, got an Emmy from National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences with other students for the Finding Sanctuary Project, which tells the story of six people that, for different reasons, found refuge in New York. Between them, an immigrant, a refugee and a survivor of the second world war. She told us how the idea came and how was the experience of being in contact with so many life stories that brought this people to the same place: New York.

Image Source: Alessandra Freitas/Personal File

Her Campus: In which year did you graduate at Cásper Líbero? Have you always wanted to study abroad or it was an opportunity?

Alessandra Freitas: I graduated in 2015. I already knew I wanted to take a course abroad. In that time, I was working at Veja São Paulo and it was in the crisis peak. I was in the job for one year and a half, I talked to my boss, but at that time, It wasn’t possible to continue. I got some freelances for some time and used my internship money to spend a month in Italy to study italian. When I came back, I was sure I needed some time living abroad. In the beginning, I wanted to go to London, but I found the dream’s course at New York University. Even that I didn't have much time, I got a scholarship and came to New York.

HC: How the project’s idea came out?

A.F: The Project was created in a Advanced Media class, which we had in the second half. Our teacher, Josh Davis, is incredible. He works at Vice and produced a documentary about Charlottesville. The idea came out right after Trump’s election, and the fear about the money for the sanctuary cities like New York and Los Angeles being reduced. What does it mean finding a sanctuary for the people? We wanted to tell the stories in the best way we could, then we started discussing how to do it. We spent a hole half dedicating ourselves to the project.

HC: Is New York a sanctuary for you?

A.F: New York is a wonderful city, but it’s not easy to live here. Once I got robbed and went to the police station, crying, so the police officer saw me and said, not in a rude way, that if I wanted to live here, I was supposed to be strong. In New York, you will pass through a lot of difficulties. About a sanctuary, this city is a bubble compared to other cities in the USA, people here don’t consider injustice and prejudice cases normal, they respect each other a lot. There is a nice reception, but it a very expensive city to live and there is a lot of low-paid jobs.

HC: How did you chose the interviewed?

A.F: We did a big research before. In the case like Henry’s, I was in the subway, got his name and contacted him by Facebook. The stories are there, and we don’t notice. I was in the subway, got out in the wrong station and had to go back, and saw him. A journalist needs to be alert about everything and don’t use only internet to find information. Follow your instinct, because the stories are right in front of you.

HC: Which interview impressed you most?

A.F: The one with Jesus, who crossed the border when he was eight years old with a coyote. He is latin too, so I identified myself with history. Now I’m journalist and he produces documentaries about things that generate social differences. We work in the same area.

HC: Have you ever imagined, in any moment, that you were winning an Emmy? How did you feel?

A.F: Some team of our course had already won some prizes. Some students of the last group got the Onlinne Journalism Award, so this was our biggest goal. To me, only the fact of being at Emmy Awards was wonderful. I though we weren’t getting the award, so I didn’t bought a dress. When we came there, a friend asked us what we were going to do if we have won, and I told her we didn’t have to worry, because it wouldn’t happen. When they announced the result, I had no words, and the first thing I thought was I wasn’t dressed for that.

HC: There was a passage of your project when Rosa said she likes America a lot, but not about “doing America” good again, relating the actual moment with Hitler’s government in Germany. What she said make us think about being a survivor, about living that situation and find some similarity. How was listening to her story?

A.F: Rosa’s story was too impacting and unfortunately she passed away in December. It was an honor to interview those people. Having the opportunity to know these stories was a privilege. When you are listening, you have to keep the attitude and can’t let yourself be shaken. You make the questions, but it is the other person who needs to talk. We learned that. If you let the other talk, you will find out a lot more than you imagined. We started with a schedule, but usually found out that there was something bigger. You need to know how to listen, because sometimes the story is on a completely different place.

HC: Do you have any advise to other girls who dreams to live abroad?

A.F: I think you have to go with and opened mind, because it’s not easy. There’s a “glamourization” about living abroad and alone, but it’s not easy. My life’s quality in Brazil was much better, but I believe that if there is an opportunity, for a journalist, having this experience is very important. I got a privilege, but it’s not all the people who have. Nothing it’s going to be how you imagined, every experience will help you to grow up. It’s very important to plan everything before, search for courses that you like, areas you want to get more knowledge about, and don’t be afraid of sending e-mails and making questions.

Gabriela Junqueira, 18 anos, estudante de jornalismo e aspirante a escritora. Busca nas palavras possibilidades.

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