Tonya Sheffield is a visionary creative who is empowering youth and adults by inspiring them to capture and share their stories. Tonya has an extensive career in the film industry, with a special focus on documentaries. In 2009 she founded The Dream School, a podcast and documentary film school for youth and adults.
According to Tonya,
“We want to give our youth and adults the tools they need to share their voices. We want them to know that people desire to hear what they have to say. We help our participants to share from their heart.”
The program teaches short story development, presentation and public speaking, fundamentals of podcasting, and coding. Engagement in the program is therapeutic in many ways and has helped participants address and heal from a variety of personal struggles related to bullying, death, low self-esteem and other emotional struggles.
The Dream School is a recent winner of the Creative Startups Accelerator hosted by the Center for Creative Economy. In addition, it received the Artpreneur award from the UNC School of the Arts and the Kenan Institute for the Arts. Tonya holds a Bachelor of Science in History from Winston-Salem State University, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the UNC School of the Arts. Tonya is an alumni of the Arts Enterprise Lab which is co-facilitated by the Kenan Institute for the Arts, and CCE. Tonya actively produces film content as an independent filmmaker, and is a military veteran.