Yolanda Johnson-Young

Yolonda Johnson-Young is a Philadelphia, PA native director and filmmaker. After the 2017 tragic loss of her 20-year-old son Elijah, a filmmaker, to suicide she needed an outlet for her pain. Yolonda learned documentary filmmaking at Scribe Video Center, the very place her late son had attended workshops as a young teenager. Yolonda received full funding to complete her first 15 minute short film Finding Elijah (via scholarship), attending Scribe Video Center’s inaugural Film Scholar Program, supported by AMPAS. Receiving one of the ’18 Leeway Art and Change Grants furthered Yolonda’s goal to expand Finding Elijah to a 25 minute social justice film to shine a light and create a dialog surrounding mental health issues and suicide prevention awareness.  In December 2018, Good Pitch Local Philadelphia, a Doc Society event, invited Yolonda to pitch her film project, Finding Elijah to gain support in expanding the short to 25 minutes. Yolonda pitched to a room full of other media makers, organizers and philanthropists eager to assist. Having met her mentor there and receiving an in-kind production donation, those connections will continue to serve as a valuable network in her future filmmaking. Yolonda also received one of the 2019 Philadelphia Independent Media Finishing Fund grants to complete post-production work on Finding Elijah. In 2019, Yolonda became a founding member of the WOC film collective, SIFTMedia 215. SIFTMedia 215 is a support system of several independent media artists who work in the Philadelphia metropolitan area and provide a community of support for socially conscious women identified filmmakers. The goal at S.I.F.T. Media is to amplify the work of and create opportunities for Black and Latinx Women content creators.