LUCHINA FISHER is an award-winning writer, director and producer. Her most recent film, the critically acclaimed feature documentary BIRTHRIGHT: A WAR STORY, which she co-executive produced and co-wrote, appeared in more than 70 theaters nationwide, qualified for Oscar consideration and is currently streaming on Amazon Prime. She is the director of two short films, including DANGER WORD, which was nominated for best narrative short by the Pan African and BronzeLens film festivals and has appeared on the Aspire network. Additionally, Luchina has written and produced several nationally broadcast documentaries as well as numerous segments for television. Her work has appeared on Discovery Health, A&E, ESPN, National Geographic Channel, ABC and in syndication. She began her career as a journalist and has written for People, the Miami Herald, The New York Times, O, The Oprah Magazine and ABCNews.com. She is also the co-author and ghostwriter of several books. Luchina has received awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and the Illinois Arts Council. She is a Sisters in Cinema Documentary Fellow and MAMA GLORIA is her feature directorial debut.
I was introduced to Gloria because she was looking for someone to help her write her memoir. But after meeting her, I knew her story would speak to people, because it spoke to me. I am the mother of a 17-year-old transgender daughter named Gia. As a Black woman filmmaker raising a biracial transgender daughter, I see Gloria’s story through a unique lens. For me, it’s personal and it’s urgent. At a time when Black transgender women in America face an epidemic of violence and make up the majority of transgender people murdered each year, Gloria's story is inspiring and seldom seen.
Chicago’s Black transgender icon Gloria Allen, now in her 70s, blazed a trail for trans people like few others before her. Emerging from Chicago’s South Side drag ball culture in the 1960s before Stonewall, Gloria overcame traumatic violence to become a proud leader in her community, known simply as Mama Gloria. This empathetic and engaging documentary is a portrait of a life full of activism and advocacy, joy and glory, and most of all love. As a staple on the South Side and the North Side, Mama Gloria has dedicated herself to uniting and supporting the trans community, pioneering a charm school for young homeless trans people and sharing the same unconditional love she received from her mother with her chosen children across the city.
MAMA GLORIA is a feature documentary about Gloria Allen, Chicago's Black transgender icon and activist. Now 75, Gloria pioneered a charm school for homeless trans youth at the Center on Halsted in Boystown. In the film, Gloria recounts her life in Bronzeville, Hyde Park and Boystown, where she now lives in the LGBTQ senior residence, Town Hall Apartments. Gloria grew up amid the legendary Black drag ball scene on Chicago's South Side and transitioned before Stonewall with the love and support of her mother, a Jet model centerfold and showgirl at the Club DeLisa, and her grandmother, a seamstress for cross-dressers and male strippers. She overcame traumatic violence as a student at Englewood High School and later reunites with her classmates, including her prom date, at a reunion on South Shore. The film is a tribute to a legend and to Chicago's Black queer history. And it's a celebration of unconditional love, the love Gloria received from her own mother and that she now gives to her chosen children.
For far too long, Trans people were made invisible by a heteronormative society that refused to see them. But there have always been activists and leaders like Mama Gloria who have refused to be invisible. These amazing trailblazers have forged ahead - creating community, celebrating care and centering compassion for their Trans siblings. To learn more about wraparound support services available specifically for Trans Chicagoans, or to get involved, visit The Center on Halsted or Chicago House TransLife Care.
Much like its subject, MAMA GLORIA is a force for Trans awareness and celebration. Learn more about the incredible journey and ongoing life of the film at mamagloriafilm.com and find more of Luchina Fisher's work here.