Sawyer Ferreira is a young writer, poet and social/ environmental activist living in Ontario, Canada. For her 16th birthday she graciously agreed to an exclusive interview in Ferreira Fest 64. In 2017, on occasion of her 18th birthday she did a follow-up interview in Ferreira Fest 89.
AN INTERVIEW WITH SAWYER FERREIRA – 2017
In order to celebrate the official launch of her own web page at The Friends of Louis Ferreira, Sawyer graciously took the time to catch us up with her recent projects and her plans for the near future.
Listen to the sound clip here:
FF – Hi Sawyer! It’s so good to talk to you again, it’s been quite a while. And you are an adult now! How cool is it to be eighteen and how did you celebrate the big day?
SF – Yeah, I can’t believe it. I’m so excited! So, I actually did something really cool. I did a Big Brother Canada party. Big Brother is this Reality TV show and basically I set up a bunch of events for my friends. I got them all matching t-shirts with my face on them. And they all competed to see who would win the ultimate head of household Big Brother Canada winner.
FF – That’s so cool!
SF – It was so much fun.
FF – That sounds like such a neat idea for a birthday party.
SF – Yeah it was so fun. I got to be the host, and I got to see all my friends do all these ridiculous tasks. So, I had a great time.
FF – Well, it sounds like a whole production to me there.
SF – Yeah, you know me, I’ve got to be dramatic about it.
FF – Well, there you go, and there’s nothing wrong with that. So, you’ve recently enjoyed a huge success with your show Confessions of the Guilty Party. Can you tell us a little bit more about the play and your production process?
SF – Of course I can. It was so exciting. So, I wrote the play back in the beginning of December. I didn’t really think it was going to be picked. I wrote the first draft of the play in like two days. And then I submitted it to my teacher. And, I think, two weeks later she got back to me and she said, “Congratulations, we picked your play!”
FF – Oh wow.
SF – Yeah, it was so, I was so shocked. And then we started casting right after that, and I got to co-direct with another girl, Abigail Green, who was amazing. And the whole process is so different from something like I’d ever done before. I’ve never directed before and I just enjoy it so much.
FF – What’s the play about? Tell us a little bit more about it.
SF – The play features five different people in a classroom. And they’re all stuck in detention because they’ve been involved in a crime, or issue, that unfolds throughout the entire play.
FF – Oh, okay.
SF – Yeah, you don’t… so the first act is basically you get to know the characters and see how they interact, you learn about their relationships.
There were these two characters who were in a relationship, and the one character is still in love with the other character. And then, throughout the second act, you see how they’re all involved in the crime that went on at the school.
FF – Oh that’s so cool. So it’s a little bit of a detective and whodunnit story, too.
SF – Yeah.
FF – That’s great, that’s awesome. And then what happened afterwards? You got more awards and accolades after that.
SF – Yeah, so we did it for the Sears Drama Festival which is an Ontario festival which showcases a bunch of schools throughout all of Ontario who compete. And we went to our district first, and we actually won an Award for Excellence in an Ensemble Piece.
FF – Oh wow.
SF – And we won an Award for Scriptwriting, I won an award. And then we got a General Award of Outstanding Production which let us go on to the regional competition.
FF – Oh that’s awesome. That is so fantastic. Where did you get to travel to?
SF – Well, the first one was actually pretty local, it was just in Burlington, and then for the regionals I think we went to… I don’t remember the place, it was like, it was very obscure, it was about an hour and a half away, I think.
FF – Okay. Well, at least there was a little bit of traveling involved with the show, so you got to actually tour it and present it elsewhere.
SF – Yes, yeah. At the regional level we won a Distinctive Merit Award for Ensemble, and then I won another Scriptwriting Excellence Award.
FF – That’s fantastic. Well, congratulations! I wish I could have gone and seen it. But it’s just a little bit far away for me…
Speaking of traveling, I understand you’ll be traveling again this summer. And pretty far this time. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?
SF – Yeah, for sure. I’m going to be going to Ecuador this summer for three weeks on a women’s empowerment trip.
FF – So that’s connected to a program then?
SF – Yes, yes. Yeah, it is.
FF – And are you a leader of this particular trip, or how are you involved in that?
SF – On this trip I’m just a regular camper but I’ve been lucky enough, because I’m doing this trip to become an Ambassador. So, as an Ambassador I’ve gotten to speak at different events and I get to promote things and get more access to resources so I can tell my friends about it. So, it’s been really great.
FF – That sounds wonderful. What are you going to be doing in Ecuador, during that camp, or that particular trip?
SF – On the trip, I just know we’ll be working closely with the women’s group there and learning about gender roles and things like that that happen in their community. But I’m sure there’s going to be a ton of other stuff we get to do.
FF – Yeah. And also the sights. I mean, it’s a beautiful country.
SF – Yeah.
FF – And it’s going to be so exciting to go there. And then after that, what’s next for you? Are you going to college? And what’s happening there?
SF – Yeah, so I got accepted to Carleton University for International Development Studies.
FF – Wow!
SF – Yeah, Carleton was my first choice, I’ve accepted their offer, so I’m going to be heading to Ottawa next September.
FF – That sounds great. What do you think your biggest challenge will be, moving to Ottawa and going into that particular program of study?
SF – Oh man, well, the whole thing, it’s just nerve-wracking in general. I’m leaving everyone, basically.
FF – Yeah.
SF – And starting over. You know. It’s just different, to live in a new place that I’ve never really been to before, in a new environment. And it’s exciting but it’s also scary.
FF – Yeah. Are you thinking about keeping up your background in drama and in theater?
SF – I hope to do a Minor in drama, in some sort of experience in drama as I continue on because I just love it so much.
FF – Yeah. Well, and there’s a lot of connections with the international community, and drama or theater in general, seeing as there are so many international theater festivals where they could really use a person like you who is well versed in travel and in international communication and whatnot, to bring those various countries together at theater festivals, for example.
SF – Oh yeah, for sure. And I would love to get involved with something like that.
FF – Well, it’s only a step away usually, so we’ll see how that happens. And please keep us in the loop on how you’ll be doing, and we’ll be checking in with you every once in a while.
SF – That’s awesome.
FF – Thank you so much, Sawyer.
SF – Thank you.
FF – And so this is also your big launch for your web page.
SF – Yay!
FF – And I hope everybody will enjoy what’s on there.
SF – Thank you for talking to me today.
FF – Okay. We’ll talk to you soon then. Good-bye.
SF – Bye.
Thanks to Casey for the transcript!
AN INTERVIEW WITH SAWYER FERREIRA – 2015
Here is the interview sound clip; there were some connection problems so please refer to the transcript below.
FF – Hi Sawyer, and welcome to Ferreira Fest!
SF – Hi!
FF – Let’s get to know you a little bit better first, so tell us a little bit about yourself, what’s your favorite subject in school, what are your hobbies, and what’s your favorite thing to do when you’re hanging out with your friends?
SF – So many great questions. Well, my name is Sawyer Ferreira, I’m sixteen. Almost, almost sixteen! I like how I said I’m sixteen! I’m practicing!
My favorite subject in school is definitely English. I’m very, very into writing and creative writing. And, yeah, so I’ve been doing a lot of that recently.
Also, drama is one of my favorite subjects. I was a part of my school play this year and that was an amazing experience. It really helped me make a lot of new friends that are now still my friends.
Usually it’s fun because me and my best friend when we get together what we do is write, and just share ideas and opinions and stuff on writing.
FF – Tell us a little bit more about your writing. What kind of creative works do you enjoy?
SF – I love experimenting with different kinds, I’m always trying different styles of writing. I’ve tried to write scripts before and I’ve done poetry. Right now, currently, I post my stories on a site called Wattpad. And I’m currently working on a “rant book” which is basically where I just share my opinions and thoughts. And I’m doing a new story, called Missing Ian, which is about a boy who goes missing and the girl he leaves behind. That’s the slogan, or whatever it’s called.
And I’ve been writing a series with my best friend, called Red Strings, for over a year now. And we actually got that book self-published, which was a really cool moment for both of us.
FF – Oh my goodness, that’s awesome!
SF – Yeah, it was amazing.
FF – That’s great. What is it about?
SF – Well that’s a fan fiction, so it’s a romance story. And it’s basically a coming of age story. The characters start out very young and they’re eighteen now and they’ve matured. My character is moving away from home.
The characters, they’ve grown up with us, which is weird to say, but because while we’ve been writing it, it’s been such a transition period for us, from middle school to high school. I really feel like these characters are a part of us.
FF – Yes.
SF – The cool thing about the website is that we can actually read people’s comments and people like it. And people really seem to enjoy it. I think the first one has about seventy thousand reads online, currently.
FF – Wow!
SF – Yeah, so that’s always good to see, it’s a good feeling.
FF – Okay, so we have that you like English and you like drama class and you’ve been in a play. What was the play?
SF – It was called “CSI – Christmas Scene Investigators“. It was about this school that puts on a Christmas play and their Santa Claus goes missing. So we all have to go and find him. And hilarity ensues.
FF – That sounds really fun. All right, so you have your birthday on Earth Day, and hey that even rhymes, I just realized! What is it that you like to do that tickles your interest, when it comes to Earth Day? And just how cool is it to combine two such important celebrations in one day?
SF – Well, I’m really passionate about a lot of social issues, so it’s cool that my birthday falls on this day. Usually a movie comes out on my birthday that I like to go to.
To me it’s very important that we have this day because, of course, we should take care of the Earth every day of the year. But just the fact that they have a day when we can really be reminded of what we’re supposed to be doing, I think is very important.
FF – And to do that on your birthday, too.
SF – Yeah, yeah. For sure. To be on my birthday is just so cool!
FF – That’s fantastic. What are some of the environmental causes and activities that you’ve participated in, in the past? What interests you most about them?
SF – Environmental causes: I go to a summer camp every year that specializes in world issues and going through that and really learning about different ones and what we’re passionate about.
For me I’m very passionate about the clean water crisis that’s going on.
And so usually my school, we would go out and we would clean up parks in our neighborhood.
FF – Okay, so you did clean ups? And, what was the other one? Water issues?
SF – Yeah. I’m very passionate about clean water in different countries. And so I go to camp and I learn about that, and how I can help prevent that and how I can educate others on that.
FF – Right. Now, you mentioned that clean water is a concern for you, globally, which is certainly true, that everybody should have access to clean water, and a lot of our diseases and issues that people in developing countries have is because they don’t have access to clean water.
SF – Yeah, exactly. My personal opinion is that part of the poverty cycle is not having clean water, that’s a big part of it.
FF – Because a lot of it really just starts with having clean water. And sanitation for that matter.
SF – Yeah. It shouldn’t be a privilege, it should be a right, I believe.
FF – Absolutely. If there’s anywhere you could travel to contribute to Earth Day or maybe participate in an activity in another country for Earth Day, where would you like to go?
SF – What a good question! I have been really wanting to go to the Amazon. I was supposed to go this summer, but I may be going next summer. And the community that I would be going to for this camp trip is actually based on the water. And so for Earth Day, we go around and we meet the people in the community and we see how they live and how they collect their water and how they take care of their environment. Which is so different from how we in Canada and America take care of ours, you know?
FF – Right.
SF – They hold everything to a different standard, which I think is very fascinating.
FF – That’s wonderful. Now, here at Ferreira Fest at our newsletter, we’re always really interested in mentorship and how we can help each other grow. Who are some of your mentors and role models in school, or in life, or in any other places that you might encounter people that you like to learn from?
SF – Well, I definitely gotta put my father in there. He’s always teaching me lessons, all the summers I’ve spent with him, he’s definitely taught me tons of values and things that I couldn’t even begin to get into. But he always stresses the importance of staying grounded and having a good sense of who you are and learning from mistakes.
So I think that’s really helped me, especially in school, just remembering that whatever you do, you’ve just gotta own up to it, and admit that you’ve done it and move on. Like, you can’t harbor on the past.
My grandma is also another one. She passed recently but she was an incredible role model. I used to go to her house every Tuesday and we would sit down and she would just lay out things for me and teach me things and play games with me.
FF – That’s great, that’s wonderful, especially when you still have grandparents that you can look up to and learn from.
SF – Yeah, exactly. She was very loving and caring and always, she was just good to talk to, you know?
FF – Yeah.
SF – I could always talk to her.
FF – Yeah. Aren’t grandparents the best, though!
SF – Yes, they are. They’re so sweet.
FF – Every couple months you do get to spend some quality time with your dad. What are some of your favorite activities together and what’s on your bucket list of things that you want to do with your dad?
SF – We’ve done so much. I’m always amazed at how much we’re able to fit in to the time we get to spend together. We just have some great car conversations.
Last summer we road-tripped from L.A. to Vancouver. And just those three days of being in the car, by ourselves, listening to the radio, it was just, yeah, it was just a lot of fun.
And, for the bucket list, we want to go help somewhere. We want to go to a different country and really volunteer our time. So I think that’s on my bucket list. I’m excited about that.
FF – Yeah, that sounds like some quality time, also to reinforce each other’s values.
SF – Yeah, for sure.
FF – You’ve done Camp Dada with your dad for thirteen years now, I think?
SF – Yes.
FF – And so how does it work? And besides the road trip, what else have you done together?
SF – What haven’t we done together? Basically Camp Dada started when I was two years old. And my dad would have my brother and me stay with him for the whole summer.
And we would go to Centre Island, we would go to museums, we would watch plays, and go to theme parks.
We did everything together.
And Dad always made sure he wasn’t working at that time so he could spend as much time with us as possible.
And he basically continued to do this for like ten years until my brother grew up and moved away. And he continues to do it with me today.
FF – Who comes up with the ideas of what you do together? Do you have a say in the matter? Or is it all Louis that brings the ideas, or how does that work?
SF – When I was younger it was a lot of Dad, mostly, but now we like to do things that really go with my interests and Dad’s interests and so we’ve seen a lot of plays. Like I said, a love of theater is something we share. Yeah, it’s really a blessing that I have so much time with my parents and with Dad because a lot of people don’t get that. So I really think that’s part of why we have such a great relationship, for sure.
FF – Wonderful. All right, we’re almost at the end, so here comes the difficult question that everybody here gets to answer: If you could describe your dad in four words, what would they be?
SF – Oh, okay, I’m trying to think of them. And good words. Okay. I think I’m ready.
FF – Okay.
SF – Positive. Fantastic. Nurturing. Honest.
FF – Those are great words, Sawyer! Thank you so much for your time!
SF – Thank you for having me talk.
*all photos © by Louis and Sawyer Ferreira
*NOTE: in compliance with the Child Protection Act both of Sawyer’s parents have given us permission to interview her and publish the conversation. Transcript by Casey. Thank you so much!
Here Sawyer shares a poem she wrote about her own hair.
A Letter to My Hair Relaxer
Dear Hair Relaxer,
I love you
I love the way I can run my fingers through my hair when you are there
I love the way you tame my wild curls into something my peers can admire
I love the way you make it possible for my hair to touch my shoulder the way the girls in the movies do
I love that when I have you my hair is not a political statement but something just growing out of my head
Hair relaxer, you are the most consistent relationship I have ever had, you have been there for me longer then my step-father
Dear Hair Relaxer,
I hate you
I hate that you make me question everything about myself
I hate then when I don’t have you I worry you can see my roots
Literally and figuratively I hate that I am embarrassed of my roots
I hate the stereotype black people can’t swim, hair relaxer, black people don’t swim because of you
I hate that little girls learn to need you the way they learn they need water to survive
I hate that I don’t hate you
I hate that I want you
I hate that I want to spend money on you
I hate that I write poems about you
But when I pick up my pen the only thought that invades my mind is the thought of the little girl getting her first treatment
She is too young to understand what hair relaxer is
But not too young for those chemicals to invade her brain teaching her that just like her ancestors who came to this country in chains
Her hair is too different, too nappy, too cotton-like to be considered beautiful
Dear Girl, you are beautiful
Everything about you is beautiful
They have deemed black hairstyles improper
Do you know what I think is improper?
Deeming black hairstyles improper
Do you hear that Louisville Kentucky?
Putting a ban on hairstyles like dreads, and locks, and afros
Is like stopping someone from connecting the dots between their hair and their melanin
You are stopping someone from discovering their final picture
Dear Hair Relaxer, You stop me from discovering my final picture
Here are some photos of Sawyer as she grew up with her family and friends. All photos courtesy of Louis and Sawyer Ferreira. All comments by Sawyer Ferreira. Please do not re-post without permission.
I was always so lucky to get to visit Vancouver, loved spending time in the city with our little entourage!
Taking the puppies for their walk! They always get so excited and hiking is always a great time for bonding, Dad and I have had some awesome conversations surrounded by nature.
My long weekend in Vancouver, a fantastic horse show we went to on the first night. One of the horses went rogue in the middle of the performance and took off!
An extremely sunny vacation after exams! Some great one on one time with my dad. (I can’t remember exactly what was happening here 😛 )
In California Land posing like models in front of one of my favorite children’s movies, one of my favorite pictures of us.
Dad thought it would be cute to take a photo with the Ferris wheel since I had never been to Disneyland before L.A.
Our day at The Grove. Dad insisted we take a picture in front of the fountain.
All of us meeting up for a walk near Venice (with Justin Nannassy and David DeLuise)
Going on a hike with the beautiful puppies in LA with my big Bro Aidan…
My night at the Geminis for Stargate Universe (L to R: J. Walker Smith, R. Carlyle, L. Ferreira, S. Ferreira, P. Gilmore, P. Kelamis)
I always loved that LA pool. A true Camp Dada summer.
More Camp Dada adventures in LA looking stylish in our hats!
LA crazy hair look! About to eat a Caesar salad and pizza.
It’s been confirmed that people with purple hair have more fun 😀
A Camp Dada party tradition!
I loved my dolls and princess crowns!!
Hiding behind my yellow balloons at the party…
An Alaskan cruise with great company!
Some classics, family is everything! I think the photos show how much we love and care for each other!
Modelling near a pine tree – classic Camp Dada coolness.
On our way to Bowen Island for Thanksgiving weekend.
Dad and I attended a show, so I dressed up!!
I remember this day so clearly, and hands down my favorite photo I have with the beautiful angel Charlie! I had come to visit Vancouver right after exams. I was enjoying the Vancouver sun in the park!
A beautiful day in LA, we had a picnic.
I have changed my hair and look older 🙂
During our Doctor Who phase, we just got our sonic screwdrivers in the mail and we had to show them off…
Yellow rain boots and natural hair. To be honest I don’t remember this day but I do love this photo!