Bridget O. Davis grew up in Harlem, in the Drew Hamilton Projects, with her four sisters. Some of her close friends took to the streets – selling and using drugs, and becoming stick-up kids.
Her mother, a counselor at a drug rehabilitation center, would often bring home recovering heroin addicts to show her daughters, first hand, the severely detrimental effects of narcotics abuse. So, Bridget found refuge in writing and praying in her secret place of the “Most High,” her bedroom closet. She also enjoyed playing hopscotch and jumping Double-Dutch.
At the age of 13, Bridget tried her hand at writing, and won an essay contest which afforded her the opportunity to attend a writing camp in Russia. This trip would change Bridget’s life forever.
Upon returning home, her love for writing grew exponentially. Now exposed to a life outside of Harlem, Bridget had something else to aspire to besides what she witnessed on the streets from her bedroom window
After losing her mother to cancer at the age of twenty, Davis vowed to pave the way to the pinnacle of success. Feeling helpless about being unable to save her mother’s life, Bridget went to college and became a Registered Nurse, specializing in Emergency Room, I.C.U. and Operating Room care. She made this choice specifically in order to help save the lives of many.
Bridget also took it upon herself to found the Pocono Mountains Film Festival (PMFF). Currently in its 11th year, the PMFF has been graced with the presence of such Hollywood legends as Billy Dee Williams, Jack Palance, Joyce Anne Dewitt, Edie Adams, Robert Townsend, Joe Jackson, Cliff Robertson, Robert Vaughn and Fred Williamson.
Bridget says, “My calling is to prepare a place for the creative to use their gifts of writing, acting, speaking and directing, and to engage in the higher process of healing at all levels of life’s deficiencies. And to bring hope to those in despair.”
Kam Williams: Hi Bridget, thanks for the interview and congrats on your hosting the Pocono Film Festival for its 11th year. How did a sister from Harlem end up in the Pocono mountains?
Bridget Davis: After witnessing all of the lives lost while growing up in Harlem to drugs and street violence, I was determined to make a positive difference in my community. After having two children with two men who did not share my same family values, I went to college and studied science with the goal of becoming a Registered Nurse. As an R.N., I would become financially independent. I would not have to depend on any man to decide the outcome of our lives.
KW: How were you able to make it out of Harlem when so many of your friends weren’t?
BD: In life, either you get it or you don’t. You cannot allow anyone else to tell you what direction you should go. My take on life is that your life should be determined by your own choices. If you fail, it will reflect your lack of hard work.
KW: Where did you, as a Registered Nurse, get the idea of starting your own film festival?
BD: I wanted to see my second novel, “Henry’s Heart,” turned into a screenplay and independent film here in the Poconos. There was no place in the Pocono’s that had a venue to screen indie films. The Poconos being a beautiful place, a film festival was missing.
KW: What were the biggest obstacles in getting it launched?
BD: Being an African-American female in a predominantly-white community, I received no financial support from the Arts Society or State representatives. As I brought Academy-Award winners to the Poconos the challenge became greater. I had to work double shifts in the Emergency Room to pay for the event. The shift of negativity in this environment came when the folks here saw that I was fair to all independent filmmakers.
KW: What was the initial reception of the Pocono community to the festival?
BD: Negative, due to the fact that other people had tried to develop a film festival and they were not successful. Also, I made it clear that everyone would have an opportunity to showcase their work and win honestly regardless of color, political agenda or socio-economic status. Blacks, Christians, Muslims and Jews had the same opportunity to compete in the Indie Film category and win.
KW: I noticed that this year you are looking for submissions of Christian and Reality films. Why so?
BD: Through my experience in watching Christian films, I have been able to broaden the demand to meet a greater need in our population to fulfill the creativity in that particular genre.
KW: What advice do you have for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?
BD: Remain humble at all cost and focus on your agenda. Take responsibility for your projects, work hard for what you believe in, and never take anything for granted.
KW: Thanks again for the time, Bridget, and best of luck with the festival.
BD: Thank you, Kam.