Film on Bi-Gender Drag Queen and Female Comedian Receives CSWE Virtual Ovation Award

Release Date: 09/23/2015

For Immediate Release
Lydell Thomas
Manager, Marketing and Communications

Alexandria, VA, September 23, 2015 – Recent University of Arkansas graduates Flannery Wasson and Hannah Merritt are the recipients of the CSWE 2015 Virtual Ovation Award for their documentary Stage Presence, featured at the CSWE 2015 Virtual Film Festival.

The film, which may be viewed online for a limited time, spotlights two young performers as they work against gender stereotypes and find their individual voices. The bi-gender Moises has decided to try drag shows to perform as Valerie, while stand-up comic Whitney works to move past stereotypical female jokes.

Stage Presence was one of nine films selected for CSWE’s third virtual film festival, which featured student-produced films related to social work. The festival is part of CSWE’s ongoing efforts to highlight classroom resources for social work educators. Audience members rated the films, and Wasson and Merritt will receive a $500 prize.

Said the filmmakers: “We are ecstatic to win the Virtual Ovation Award for 2015. We worked hard to do justice to Whitney and Moises’ stories, and we are glad to share their incredible talents. We congratulate all the great storytellers involved in this festival.”

“We’re pleased to present this award to Ms. Wasson and Ms. Merritt,” said Darla Spence Coffey, CSWE president and chief executive officer. “Stage Presence shows the importance of gender identity and expression in reflecting the full range of human diversity and dignity.”

CSWE is a nonprofit national association representing more than 2,500 individual members as well as graduate and undergraduate programs of professional social work education. Founded in 1952, this partnership of educational and professional institutions, social welfare agencies, and private citizens is recognized by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation as the sole accrediting agency for social work education in the United States.