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Artist of the Month: Wafa Kanan

Wafa Kanan is a self-made entrepreneur, poet, creative producer, and philanthropist. She immigrated from Lebanon seeking the American dream after years of living in a war zone, unrest, and political turmoil. She broke the mold and took her passion for the arts, journalism, and the power of her voice to begin a new career in America. She wanted to make an impact, to uplift the spirit, and be where she can give to the world something greater than herself. Her dream was to rise above the ashes and make a difference.

Kanan created a boutique marketing agency that has thrived for over 25 years where her innovative creative and design work allowed her to work with Fortune 500 companies. Here, her creative campaigns garnered the gold standard of accolades including the Emmy, Telly, Communicator, and Davey Awards. Simply stated, her vision empowers brands that she believes makes a positive influence in the world.

Kanan also launched various humanitarian campaigns and her philanthropist efforts have positively impacted the lives of more than 40,000 underserved communities globally.

Kanan’s passion to write poetry began at the age of 12. Years later, she turned her craft to publishing and video production. As an inspired filmmaker, Kanan sought to bring life to her poetry by introducing music and visuals to awaken all senses. Her first short film production “Awakenings” has been nominated and selected in various film festivals and announced a semifinalist in LAFA in November 2023.

Photos by: Jon Gordon

We had the privilege of delving into the profound creative journey of Kanan. Here's her story.

What fuels your passion for filmmaking, and how has this enduring love for the craft shaped your creative journey?

I grew up in the middle of a civil war. In a war zone, having a voice is the biggest challenge you face -- besides staying alive. The pandemic was reminiscent of those days. It left us without a voice, and we were separated from society at large. In that time, I saw clearly what our nations and the world are facing today. Hope can heal all doubts of the mind. Love can wash away the harshness of sorrows. Kindness gives humanity a meaning worth living. Poetry was, and still is, my way of expressing what is in my soul. I was able to peacefully rebel against war with a shout of peace and fight for human dignity. I always wanted to do it in a creative way and differentiate myself from the mass of storytelling by producing poetry that sings, visually impacts the audience, and invigorates a sense of high spiritual harmony.

Your short film "Awakenings" is a captivating and minimalist tribute to healing the mind and soul. Could you share the inspiration behind creating such a poignant meditation piece?

As a war survivor, the pandemic brought a volume of old memories and the lockdowns tested our collective emotional health, especially the younger generations. I lost my father during this time. It was particularly painful without the ability to say goodbye at his bedside and touch his hands as he embarked his spiritual, post-life journey. I wanted to give tribute to all of those who have lost their dearest and let them know that there is hope after painful experiences. And no matter what, that they are in good hands. My heart called to me to share that hope and give them a poetic hug with the positive energy of the soul.

"Awakenings" conveys a resounding message of hope and unity, especially in the face of challenges like lockdowns. What do you aspire for viewers to glean from the film, and how do you envision it resonating with them in these unprecedented times?

It is easy in challenging times to fall into the dark side in your soul and become your worst enemy, you feel as if you are in on an island by yourself. Speaking your voice with freedom of self-expression, brings you inner peace and eventually influence a positive personal change in your life, and for others. Awakening the soul of humanity in all of us is always my vision. At the end of the day, I want everyone to understand that “Humanity Has No Nationality.” We are all the same.

"Pandemic Awakenings" by Wafa Kanan

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