Emerging Filmmaker Raises the Curtain on True Story of Human Trafficking

| Acting

Emerging Filmmaker Raises the Curtain on True Story of Human Trafficking,
Wins Multiple Film Festival Awards for His Short Film

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (April 15) — Angelo Reyes, an up-and-coming filmmaker earned an award in the prestigious Beverly Hills International Film Festival on April 7 for Groomed, a short film based on the life of sex trafficking victim turned national advocate, Tanya Gould-Street.

Reyes won Best Editing at the film festival and his film will also be screened during the Richmond International Film & Music Festival on April 25. Groomed, which will be available on Amazon Prime Video this fall,also earned two film honors last year. It earned a Platinum Award for Short Films in the L.A. Shorts Awards and an Award of Merit for Short Films in the Accolade Global Film Competition.

Reyes, wrote, directed and produced Groomed after watching a news story in his hometown of Virginia Beach, Va., about two guys who were arrested for human trafficking. He then spent three years researching trafficking and interviewing survivors including Gould-Street.

“At first, I was hesitant to participate and re-exploit the issue because it was still new and many people saw the issue as a victimless crime,” said Gould-Street, a member of several community outreach organizations and president and founder of Identifiable Me organization aimed at eradicating violence against women and children. “Eventually, I agreed to help produce this film to help our communities understand the victim/survivors’ mindset.”

Groomed takes place in Virginia Beach and tells the story of Maria, a teenage girl whose life changes irrevocably when she meets an older man who coerces her into the world of human trafficking. Unfortunately, Maria’s story is more common than many might realize. Frustrated by her overbearing mother, Maria runs to the arms of an older man for his attention and promises of love. In return, he manipulates her into a life of sexual exploitation over time. Maria realizes too late that what she thought was love was a ploy for control that could have left her spiraling out of control.

Maria’s story is based on that of Gould-Street who took her experience and used it to help others. She serves as an international speaker, consultant, advocate, member of the U.S. Human Trafficking Advisory Council and a policy champion for the National Survivor Network.

“I tell my story for a living, but it was surprising to me as I read through the script line by line and watched the actors tell the story,” said Gould-Street, who fosters integrity and wholeness into those affected by sexual violence. “It made me grateful for my life. It is just not my life that I am grateful for, but the ability to work in film and express my artistic self this way.”

Reyes wanted to highlight the realities of human trafficking and raise awareness in his community of Virginia Beach and nationally, especially since there is a national movement to bring greater awareness to what human trafficking really entails.

“I wanted to highlight how traffickers look like ordinary and approachable people who prey on vulnerable men and women,” Reyes said. “The film demonstrates the psychological abuse and tactics traffickers use to control and groom their victims so we can educate parents and kids on the warning signs.”


More About Groomed

Produced by Reyes Films, the film stars Ana Roshelle Diaz as the Bottom and Queen Sugar’s Danielle Lyn in the pivotal role of Maria. Production on the short film took place in Virginia with the short film now showing at film festivals around the country. Visit the film’s official website at www.groomedshortfilm.com and on Instagram.

About Angelo Reyes

Angelo’s career in the entertainment industry began with a stint as producer and host of the Street Vision Garage. He has appeared in several movies and TV shows including Tyler Perry’s The Have and Have Nots and House of Cards. He has earned numerous awards for his acting and short films including the Rising Star Award with the Westfield International Film Festival, a Platinum Award for Short Films with the L.A. Shorts Awards, an Award of Merit Best Shorts and Award of Merit Asian American both with the Accolade Global Film Competition. Follow Reyes on Twitter, Instagram and learn more about him on IMDB.

“I have always wanted to create films that carry a message,” Reyes said. “Acting is my first love. But writing and directing films that ignite emotions and spotlight difficult, often traumatic, stories based on real life events take my passion to a whole new level for me.”

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