Think Outside the Crayon Box is the theme that sculpts Amanda’s talks. While in the psychiatric hospital, a thoughtful nurse handed Amanda a box of crayons. This kind gesture made an impactful difference in Amanda’s healing and ultimately led her journey in becoming a mental health leader, social entrepreneur, and documentary filmmaker. Since age 18, Amanda has been giving talks to universities, high schools, non-profits, and health care systems.  She weaves in her personal story of mental health recovery and coming out in the LGBTQ community to sharing her short films about other people's journeys. Her empathy drives her creativity and advocacy to help others and improve the system. The goal is for audiences to feel inspired, hopeful, and with tools they can apply in their own life and communities.

Meet Amanda (3 min.)

View Speech Topics One-Pager

COVID update:

Amanda is offering virtual speeches and workshops. She also addresses talking points through pre-recorded interviews. For example, UC Davis asked Amanda to submit a video for their virtual conference addressing speaking prompts.

Talking Points & Workshops

Topic: Symptoms to Superpowers: Finding Strength & Creativity

Amanda’s shares her journey from mental health breakdown during college to becoming a mental health leader. Spending three months in a psychiatric hospital hearing patients’ stories of struggle and triumph, she observed from the inside-out how the system works. She shares how hitting rock bottom gave her ‘superpowers’ of empathy and insight to help audiences learn.

What's your mental health superpower? 

  • How can vulnerability evolve to strength
  • Why challenging the system is needed now more than ever
  • Why creative healing is a personal investment

Topic: Humanizing Mental Health: The Impact of Storytelling

Amanda’s journey to becoming a filmmaker began with storyboarding patient’s stories at the psychiatric hospital. She learned that listening and crafting a story can be therapeutic and empowering. As she learned the art of interviewing and storyboarding, she realized that filmmaking practices translate to everyday human interactions as well. It’s rather simple: people want to be heard, appreciated, and represented. When we see others talk about mental health, it gives us the opportunity to reflect on our own.

Do we listen with intent?

  • How storytelling can improve access to services & support
  • Why strategic sharing empowers agency & accountability
  • How owning our personal narratives builds confidence

Workshop: Cause-Driven Filmmaking: How films can help people

Amanda shares behind-the-scenes of how she makes short documentary films. Her specialty is cause-driven filmmaking in mental health and social impact. In other words, how can films help people's lives and improve systems? Amanda believes filmmaking is both an art and a science that requires building strategic partnerships and thinking outside the box.

How can films drive empathy & innovation?

  • Power & Responsibility: bias and journalistic ethics in interviewing and editing
  • Digital Advertising: using digital advertising methods to proactively reach people seeking help online
  • Film Production 101: creating film budgets, building crews, and film fundraising
  • Theory to Practice: trauma-informed principles and entertainment-education theories in film practices
  • Film Promotion: digital advertising, strategic partnerships, and film festivals

Topic: Pulling up a Seat at the Table

Amanda shares her insights starting her filmmaking and consulting business at 23 years old to serving on state and national mental health boards since she was 19 years old. She often gets asked by youth: "How did you get started in mental health?", or "How did you become a filmmaker?"

Start with your passion & what you love 

  • Passion 1st: leading with your gut and strengths
  • Humility with Confidence: knowing when to step up, and when to step to the side
  • Equity: challenging teams and boards to be representative of their diverse communities
  • Just start: incremental success and leaning into discomfort

Topic: Work Hard, Play Harder

Now more than ever, traditional workplaces are being altered and challenged. Managing work-life balance and finding outlets is key to wellness. How do we build a career that works with our lifestyle? What if we invested in ourselves as much as our careers?  Time off and flexibility has become normalized and even encouraged. This is also a privilege and depends on one's work culture and its leadership. Amanda has been working remotely since she graduated college in 2014, navigating the pressures of being a serial business owner and meeting demands of clients and employers. She has built her work around her lifestyle.

  • Get off the grid: seeing time off as an investment in both your personal and professional life
  • Progress over perfection: there's always more to do, so celebrate the small wins
  • Investing in you: prioritizing your personal aspirations as much as your career goals

Amanda has spoken at

Amanda in action at...

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