Profile: Actress & Filmmaker, Meredith Grace Dabney Is Planning To Change The World

Meredith Grace Dabney is a 16-year-old actress and filmmaker who plans to change the world! Through her films, she wants to talk about difficult topics such as depression and suicide, as well as other important issues. Meredith is releasing a new short film, Here Today which emphasizes that our words and actions actually matter. We had the absolute pleasure of interviewing Meredith Grace Dabney and learning more about this inspiration!

Her Campus at UCLA: What inspired you to write Here Today? Your film touches on the issue that every word and action matters, why do you think this message is so important for people to grasp?

Meredith Grace Dabney: Here Today is a culmination of my entire life. Every experience, every encounter. They all aligned in a way that boosted me to a place where I sensed a need to create this project. I have noticed in my peer group specifically, but a wider age range as well, that we tend to speak just as words come to us without giving our words and actions the thought and care needed for them to have true impact. Now, I believe being present is highly important, but I also believe that paying attention to those around you is infinitely important. Notice when someone is reaching out, dig deeper to the words they use, what they are really trying to say. If someone reaches out with their truth, listen, and support them with your own intentional words and actions. My hope is for us to grow together, to be stronger, and ultimately be more compassionate towards one another. 

HC: When did you develop your interest in acting and filmmaking?

MD: One of my best-friends was in an acting class and I decided to try it myself. I soon grew connected to the stage and proceeded to perform in a variety of drama productions and plays, before shifting to musical theater and focusing intensely on that for a number of years working to become a triple threat (singing, acting, dancing). Once I had the opportunity to participate in a few films, I immediately fell in love with being both in-front of and behind the camera lens and have been focusing my efforts on learning everything I can about acting and all aspects of filmmaking ever since.

HC: How did you start your own production company, Astrabeta Creations?

MD: As the process developed in the creation of my film Here Today, it became apparent that I really could make a difference in both my immediate and broader worlds.  Eventually, the platform I had been seeking as a vehicle for this impact revealed itself in the form of film and filmmaking. Making movies. Creating art. Telling stories that matter. Thus, ASTRABETA CREATIONS came from dust, literally, and the idea to create was made possible by my incredibly supportive team who is helping me reach for the stars. (which, btw, is the meaning of “astrabeta” – reaching to the stars through obstacles – which is exemplified in my logo as well)  I am a storyteller and my mission through ASTRABETA CREATIONS is to “tell stories that need to be told” through filmmaking.

HC: Describe the challenges you have faced as a 16-year-old filmmaker and actor.

MD: I think one of the most prominent challenges being a 16-year-old creator is that people tend to not take you seriously or immediately respect your work. Compared to more well-established creators who have an industry track record and who seem like the safer choice, people have to be willing to take a risk on me because I am very much an unknown. There are also some advantages and opportunities as well and I think it’s incredible that every day people’s impressions are shifting…One day a 16-year-old may seem like a glossy front with little substance and the next day you could have created something impactful that changes impressions and has a positive impact on the world! In spite of the challenges, I firmly believe that anyone, regardless of what might seem like limitations, can manifest their desires and dreams, and that believing in yourself 100% is the way to start. 

HC: What specific topics do you believe need to be discussed currently in our society?

MD: One of my goals is to help to start conversations about the things most people don’t want to talk about. In the case of Here Today, the important topics are anxiety, depression, and suicide and the fact that everything in our environment comes together to shape who we are. In one of my next projects, mental health and dysfunctional family dynamics are the topics I hope will be brought to the forefront for more healthy discussions.  Other themes I plan to incorporate into future projects (and I hope will be discussion starters) are LGBTQ rights, the inherent feelings and emotions we all experience, and the much-needed focus on connection rather than separation (ie: bringing people together rather than pulling the apart) in our society today. 

HC: What do you hope to accomplish in your filmmaking career?

MD: I want to change the world. And my way of doing that is through film. More specifically I want to encourage light and positivity as options to many of the dark struggles we so often stuff down and try to ignore. Instead, I hope to encourage bringing them up and out and to allow these challenges to radiate and connect us. 

HC: Why is it important for you to create a non-profit organization? 

MD: Like me, many young people have a voice that desperately needs to be heard. I want to create a safe platform so that a board of empowered individuals can support, help, and facilitate these voices reaching out, pleading, and needing to be felt, heard, and seen. It is my plan and hope that my non-profit can be the much-needed platform to give this group not only a voice, but also the volume and power needed to make an impact by encouraging others to listen.

HC: What does female empowerment mean to you? 

MD: Having a voice that is heard. An image that is seen. An effect that is felt. 

HC: Any advice for aspiring young female filmmakers that want to get started in the industry?

MD: Believe in yourself 100%. Don’t let the haters bring you down cause you’re too awesome to let anyone who isn’t supporting you to suck your valuable energy. You’re a boss, let your voice roar. You matter. I believe in you!

Thank you so much for speaking with us! We wish you the best of luck on all your endeavors!