Olivia Reid Documents Queer Experiences in Debut Film
By Kenneth Cervantes
To sophomore communications major Olivia Reid “take two” is a double entendre. Being a filmmaker who is taking a second look at life, the phrase sparked the premise for her debut film: “Take Two: Reclaiming Queer Adolescence in Adulthood.”
The 19-year-old Jamaica, Queens native is taking Adelphi University’s Communications Department by storm with her documentary, which chronicles the experiences of four Adelphi students who identify as LGBTQIA+.
Making videos since she was 12 years old, Reid’s passion for filmmaking allows her to capture people and moments she holds dear. “At first I wanted to be a YouTuber, so I would make random videos with my cousins,” Reid said. “In high school, I started vlogging behind the scenes of all the plays I was in. From there, I began to take [filmmaking] more seriously.”
To expand her videography skillset, Reid took Video I with professor Joan Schimke during the fall 2022 semester. One of Reid’s assignments was to create a five-minute documentary on a topic of choice. Initially, she struggled to develop a concept for her video, searching around Google for potential ideas.
It wasn’t until Reid viewed a video on TikTok about “second queer adolescence” that she gained inspiration for her documentary. Many members of the LGBTQIA+ community try to relive their teenage years in their adulthood. According to a study conducted by Yale University, 83 percent of people who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual conceal their sexual identity within their lifetime. As a result, queer adults try to reach developmental milestones such as their first kiss and romantic relationship.
After she selected this topic for her documentary, Reid spent a month interviewing four fellow LGBTQIA+ Adelphi students. Shooting with a Sony α6500 camera and editing with Adobe Premiere Pro, she documented anecdotes from each of her cast members, including topics such as sexual exploration and coming out.
“Being part of this film helped me become more transparent about my transgender identity,” said Sal Jones, a senior music education major who starred in the film. “I hope I can parallel my story with others just like me.”
Schimke was impressed with Reid’s ability to capture stories like the one Jones shared. “Olivia has the willingness to probe deeply into her subject matter,” said Schimke. “The people she interviews are able to reach a level of openness and honesty, creating meaningful and thought-provoking work.”
Astonished with Reid’s final cut, Schimke encouraged her to submit “Take Two” to Adelphi’s Fall Film Festival, which took place on Dec. 13, 2022, in the Olmsted Theater. Reid never showed her work in front of a large audience and was reluctant to enter the festival.
“I’m very critical of my own work.” she said. “Truthfully, I didn’t realize the impact my film would have on viewers because I was so focused on perfecting the technical details.”
At the conclusion of the festival, many queer attendees applauded Reid, and her documentary was awarded “Best Editing.”
The conversation surrounding Reid’s film didn’t stop after the Fall Film Festival. Two months later, professor Peggy Cassidy, department chairperson, selected Reid’s documentary to be one of four films featured in the ViewFinders Film Festival. Sponsored by the Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging, and the Office of Advancement and External Relations, this festival focused on social justice.
Reid and two of her cast members sat on a panel during the festival, which took place on Feb. 23. When Cassidy asked her about her experience on set, Reid said, “It was an honor to sit down with the cast and be able to converse in such a raw and poignant way.”
Post-production, Reid has been more candid about her sexual orientation. Being raised in a strict, religious household with two Jamaican parents, Reid struggled to express her sexuality. She forced herself to dress femininely and only like boys as a child but didn’t feel comfortable in her own skin.
Reid began to deny her attraction toward women in her high school years. Leaning into her attraction toward men, she feared being ostracized by her friends and losing her parents. “My grandma started to become suspicious that I was gay,” Reid said. “She said she wanted ‘the old me’ back, and that moment stuck with me.”
Reid had time to introspect and affirm her bisexuality during the Covid-19 pandemic. When she started her first year of college in August 2021, she saw this new chapter as an opportunity to be open with herself and others. “I wrestle with my queer identity at home, but Adelphi has given me the outlet to be myself loudly,” she said. A friend to many queer students on campus, Reid defines herself as bold, optimistic and unshaken.
Sharpening her craft, Reid plans to take on new videography skills such as color grading and narratives. Her message to queer folks who are struggling with their identity is simple: to keep fighting but also find the time to rest. “Life is a journey, and it’s okay if you need a second take,” Reid said with a smile.