Since time immemorial, art has often become the focus of almost every creative pursuit. Creatives are going over and beyond to transform an idea into glorious stories that can be shared from person to person. Sophia Dunn-Walker and Kip Walker co-created ENKIDU to better include the much-needed voices of people with disabilities in the arts. Today we look at Sophia’s career so far and what inspired her to co-create ENKIDU. Sophia is a modern-day bi-national artist who maintains the grandeur of art and exercises her artistic prowess through directing.
For Dunn-Walker, her life experience as a person with a disability allowed her to view the world from a much broader perspective. She shares, “Growing up with a disability has influenced both my work as an activist and an actor. My brother Kip, who is on the autism spectrum, and I created ENKIDU because we understood the importance of working with people’s unique strengths instead of trying to fit them into the mold of an able-bodied, neurotypical status quo.” Her experience as a special ed student who also excelled in advanced classes gave Sophia a sense of empathy for others, and a value for different ways of thinking and existing. With a deep understanding of herself, Dunn-Walker encourages everyone to value different perspectives rather than marginalizing people with disabilities.
Prior to her creation of ENKIDU, Sophia has worked professionally as a bilingual actor, writer, and spokesperson for artists with disabilities. She graduated from Reed College with a BA in directing and a degree in translation in 2015. After Reed, she trained as a bilingual actor at Cours Florent in Paris, where several of her plays were commissioned and produced. Dunn-Walker has expressed her commitment to using her talents to work on socially aware films and has made appearances in LGBT and French independent films. She has also worked with big-name directors such as Luc Besson. She believes that working in a second language is an invaluable experience that enables her to have a richer appreciation for the human experience. As a writer, she has assisted TV comedy writers in France, and has gained international recognition and won awards for playwriting.
Dunn-Walker believes that working with those who inspire us is essential to any creative professional. When asked who her mentors are, she mentioned several important figures in her life. Dunn-Walker has worked on several of Emmy-winning director Jaclyn Bethany’s films. She has also been mentored and inspired from a young age by family friend filmmaker Stefan Lorant and prolific director Dennie Gordon. Dunn-Walker loves working with other female directors and hopes to continue to work for and learn from them moving forward.
Sophia’s first significant screen time was in the winter of 2019 in Jake Yuzna’s feature film After America. She enjoyed her time in the movie and has continued working on other projects with Jake, such as his new movie Whoever You Are. She sums up her decision to maintain a professional relationship with Yuzna as she believes that “his work is intense and creatively challenging”
Currently, Dunn-Walker is taking on the lead role of Yuzna’s feature film, Whoever You Are. While Yuzna’s alternative approach to filmmaking comes with its own challenges, Dunn-Walker states that it explores many of her artistic curiosities such as identity, sexual power, death, and spiritual transcendence. Sophia admits that much of her work deals with themes of transformations of the body and dying and being reborn. She explains, “I am drawn to playing characters who are strong and psychologically complex, but the intensity of these characters also highlights some of their comedic aspects.”
When asked if she will return to France and continue to work there, Sophia stated she will return to work there as soon as Covid subsides. She recently scored a grant and residency for writing at Chateau Orquevaux in Alsace, France, to better focus on writing and connect with artists from across disciplines. She believes her connection to France is integral to her career. She and Kip plan on eventually opening a chapter of ENKIDU in Paris.
Sophia’s commitment to becoming the best version of herself as an actor, writer, and director is genuinely admirable. She is determined to take a stance against injustice for young adults and, particularly, LGBT youth with disabilities.