Q&A with Alexandra Haggiag Dean

By: Niki Shadrow Snyder

  1. NS:  Tell us about yourself and what you do?  AHD:  I’m a documentary director. 
  2. NS:  How did you personally move the needle in 2020? AHD:  I directed a new film about Paris Hilton called “This is Paris” that explores the real reason Paris Hilton created her famous persona and became an early influencer.  She was locked in solitary confinement, drugged and abused, and suffered childhood trauma in a reform school in Utah. When she was released, she wanted to become so rich and famous so nobody could control her again. The film will hopefully alert American viewers to the terrible drugging and beating children suffer in reform schools across the US.
  3. NS:  How did you deal with the stress in the world in 2020?  AHD:  I dealt with the stress of this difficult year by retreating to my parents’ house in the country with my husband and two young boys. We have been baking and gardening and we succumbed to the ultimate Covid cliché.  We bought a pandemic puppy. He’s called Archie McScruffers. He is overconfident, has an underbite and untamable hair, and we are mad about him.
  4. NS:  Do you have any advice for your younger self? AHD:  Be bold. Believe in yourself. Don’t listen to rubbish about what you can’t do, or what is impossible. Take that leap. Realize that too many of your heroes are men, and that means much of what you want to achieve will seem out of reach. Look for women who are doing what you dream of doing, and realize, if they did it, you just might reach for the stars, too. Be kind to yourself and others. It sounds simple. It isn’t. The world conspires against you, and so does your ambition. To counter that, practice kindness every day. It’s a muscle. Don’t take it for granted. And in the end, know this: love is all that matters. Love well. Love better than that. And tomorrow, try to love a bit more. How well we love is the real mark we make on the world.
  5. NS:  What did you do in 2020 that you’re the most passionate about?  AHD:  I can’t reveal much about this, because it’s a work in progress, but in the early days of lockdown I started interviewing a bunch of women who represent the most beautiful, and powerfully sexy women in our society, and I began to realize that they had all suffered trauma that was hiding in plain sight. Quite by accident I discovered a new story that I’m absolutely passionate about directing, and that, God willing, will become a series on A&E starting next fall.
  6. NS:  What was the worst part of 2020 for you? AHD:  I’ve been very lucky and we haven’t lost any loved ones or suffered from the disease yet, so this feels like an entry I shouldn’t even fill in. But if we need to, I guess the worst part of 2020 was missing out on the Tribeca Film Festival opening night of our film “This is Paris” in March. We were planning an enormous screening and party for over 600 people, so laughable when I think about it now! But God, it would have been fun. Also, I would have loved to see the audience reaction, and I’m still a little heartbroken that I never will.
  7. NS:  What was the best part of 2020 for you?  AHD:  The best part of 2020 has been spending all this time with my family. I used to wish that the merry-go-round of my life would spin a little slower and I could get off and smell the roses from time to time. Well, that has finally happened. I don’t know if I smelled many roses, but I definitely smelled a lot of freshly shampooed kid hair when we did our evening hugs, I dried a lot of puppy fur wet from the rain, and pulled piles of vegetables from the loamy soil in our garden. That was pretty good.
  8. NS:  What does success mean to you?  AHD:  Success means getting to work on my dream projects. Success is the incredible sensation that people believe in me and will give me a bigger canvas upon which to splash my dreams.
  9. NS:  What causes are important to you? AHD:  Women’s rights and gender equality are very important to me. I want to see a society that is more balanced. I think many of our problems stem from having a hyper-aggressive, hyper-competitive, hyper-masculine society. I think we have forgotten the quieter, softer powers: collaboration, caring for others and for our environment, supporting the structure in which we live so it cares for everyone in need.
  10. NS:  Do you think the world needs to be influenced by what they can get or what they can give in the middle of this pandemic.  AHD:  A thousand times over, what they can give.