EXTRAORDINARY PEOPLE: A Grace of Valorem

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Later this year there is a film festival like no other in the world and it will be held in Wilmington. It’s called the Valorem Film Festival and it gives the spotlight to those who are often left out of it. The person who created it is our Extraordinary Person of the Week.

Emma Grace Wright’s passion for film began while documenting the life of her family. Her brother and sister, Bitty and Beau, have Down syndrome. While attending the Sundance Film Festival in 2014 with her brother Beau, who walked the red carpet that year, Emma Grace noticed how the film industry rarely puts people with disabilities in the spotlight.

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She decided to create the spotlight. “I was searching around, thinking how could I use the word value,” Emma Grace told Daniel Seamans, “and then I looked it up in Latin and it was valorem. So I thought Valorem Film Festival, the festival that gives people value.”

The idea is now actually happening this year and it is because of her love for her family.

“Everything I do I want to help advocate for my brother and sister,” she said. “And I think the best way to do that for me was through film because film is such a passionate outlet for me.”



Her family is no stranger to the spotlight. Her mother, Amy Wright, created Bitty and Beau’s coffee shop in 2016 which is known around the world for employing people with disabilities.

But the spotlight is no something Emma Grace necessarily wants to be in. “I mean, I get in front of the camera sometimes if we’re having a dance party at the shop,” she said. “But I’m usually just the one filming everything, and I like it that way.”

She always puts others first and now, Emma Grace is putting more people with special needs in the spotlight. “Beau, my brother, went to the Sundance Film Festival in 2014 and I got to see him walk the red carpet and see him enjoy himself and feeling like a star. And so I wanted to make that an experience for other poeple in the film industry to give people with special needs a chance because they are ussually not featured in movies and I want that for them.”

Her latest project gives such a chance. “We’ll have screenings at the Point 14, the new theater in Wilmington and anyone can come to that.”

It’s called the Valorem Film Festival, created by Emma Grace, and will take place later this year. There’s even a thousand dollars up for grabs.

“It’s a short film contest,” she said, “so you’re making a 15 minute video that features someone with a disability and you can have people without disabilities in it too but the main part is to try doing something outside your normal comfort zone.”

Emma Grace Wright, you are most definitely giving people value. You’re a “Grace of Valorem”, so to speak, and that makes you, Extraordinary.

You can find information on the film festival on their website and Facebook page. The deadline to enter the contest is September 9th with the festival taking place October 6-7.