Editor’s Note: They are leaders. They are inspirational. They are mentors. They are visionaries. They are, quite frankly, badasses. They are our 2022 REEL WOMEN – incredible personalities in Advertising, Entertainment, Media and Production. Women like Sue Vicory are making “Herstory.”
Sue Vicory has been a film director, writer, producer, and executive producer for the past 20 years. She created Heartland Films, Inc. a 501(c) 3 in 2003 to create films that inspire and educate.
Her first documentary film, Homelessness & The Power of One premiered in 2005, screened from coast to coast, won multiple awards and raised $200,000 for shelters. Sue’s second film, Kansas City Jazz & Blues; Past, Present & Future, a feature documentary, aired on PBS. Sue is a three-time Telly award winning filmmaker. She has spoken on and moderated panels around the world including both Sundance Film Festival and Cannes Film Festival. She is a member of the Alliance of Women Directors and Women in Film LA.
Sue is an Emmy judge both regionally and nationally. She created a website, www.womendocumentaryfilmmakers.com in order to give women doc makers global visibility. Sue has been a multi-year producer, presenter and judge for the San Diego film awards and serves on the Board of Advisors for the San Diego Film Consortium.
In 2015 Sue created Team XX, an all-female cast & crew during the San Diego 48 Hour Film Project and completed a film titled Down Stage working with 25 women. It was nominated for the Spirit of San Diego award. Sue won the Industry Excellence Award from the French Film Festival and a Lifetime Achievement Award from Washburn University, her alma mater.
Sue has been C.F.O. of her family business (W.F. Norman Corp) since 1987 and additionally she created an inspirational lifestyle brand called My Power of One. www.mypowerofone.com
Sue has been married for 44 years to her college sweetheart, raised two creative daughters and is now a grandmother. Sue and her husband traveled through all 48 states in 2016 with Kacy, their golden retriever in a My Power of One brand wrapped RV while completing 12 acts of kindness in all four corners of the United States. Her work can be seen at www.suevicory.com
Let’s meet Sue!
What’s your origin story?
I was born in DeKalb, Illinois. My Grandfather was a seed corn farmer. Both of my parents and my older brother and I were all born in the same hospital. We moved around a lot because my father, who was also not college-educated, was a very successful businessman. I went to two grade schools, two junior highs, two high schools, and two colleges.
How did you get into the film industry?
I went to film school at 48 years old after raising our daughters and sending them off to college. I asked myself one night who I wanted to be for the 2nd half of my life and one hour later I was signed up to film school. I attended a one-week boot camp at the New York Film Academy sponsored by AMC in the fall of 2002. I then promptly sent myself to an editing class in Washington DC and set up an editing suite in my home. I bought a camera, picked a topic (homelessness), and began.
Three years and 15 cities later I completed a 10-minute film that premiered to a standing room-only audience 10 days after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. We raised $30,000 that night for local shelters and the film went on to raise $200,000, screen across the country and win countless awards. I’ve never looked back…
Who were your mentors?
My parents are my main mentors. They were both incredible role models. Honestly, I’m probably the luckiest human being that ever existed. My foundation in life was extremely solid, allowing me to reach for any goal or dream I could fathom.
While there will be others, what do you consider your biggest achievement to date?
My biggest achievement to date is raising two extraordinary young women and launching them into the world. Whereas my parents were my role models, I am now theirs.
What drives you to create?
I breathe, therefore I create. My contention is we are all born to create something in our lifetimes, mine of choice is visual storytelling.
What shows are doing the best job of portraying strong women on TV?
I don’t watch a lot of TV – I love documentaries and indie films. The most recent shows I’ve binge watched with women leads are Dead to Me and Big Little Lies.
REELated: See who else is on the Reel Women List
Coffee, Lunch or Happy Hour?
Name a famous woman you would like to attend each function with. I don’t drink alcohol but I love to meet girlfriends at coffee shops or for a meal. Ellyn Burstyn for lunch, Katharine Hepburn (God rest her soul.) for coffee and Nancy Meyers for non-alcoholic drinks.
What is the biggest challenge to women in your industry?
The biggest challenge to any human being is their self-imposed boundaries which are made up. Nothing stands in my way except myself if I allow it which I don’t.
How has having the superpower helped you?
Understanding that I co-create my life one decision at a time has allowed me to feel empowered. Anything is possible and everything is probable is my mantra.
What is your kryptonite?
Oddly enough, my kryptonite is ‘ice cream’.
When you’re not creating, what do you do in your off time?
I spend a great deal of time in nature being an outdoors girl. We live on an 80-acre farm so it’s easy to do. I also love to travel. We have been to 49 of the 50 states and I’ve traveled to Africa and a half dozen European countries, Canada, and Mexico.
Predict your future! Where are you in 5 years?
In FIVE years, I will be actively involved in my grandson’s life living much closer. He changed my life in ways even I didn’t see coming and I intend to be a life-changer for him.
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