Sonya Rosario

"You cannot create a legacy for yourself,
until you create one for someone else"

Extended Biography

Sonya Rosario is an independent filmmaker, owner and CEO of Sonya Rosario Productions, founded in 2000 and lives in Idaho. The cornerstone of Sonya Rosario Productions is built on the cultural experiences and enriching history that has inspired the work cultivated throughout the artist’s life. The multidimensional Rosario has infused films dating back two decades with grassroots activism and great courage. An award-winning artist and Latina filmmaker in the State of Idaho – she captures the very essences of the stories told in the voices of the change-makers and films these legacies that will inspire future generations in creating change. Rosario's films contribute to the social consciousness of the Idaho landscape by empowering women to share their stories through the medium of film.

Born in San Antonio, Texas, Sonya was highly influenced by the Mexican culture and the women in her family, starting with her mother, Gloria, who were storytellers, poets, musicians, and community organizers. She was also privileged to have experienced different cultures and communities growing up in Italy, Holland and Azores, Portugal – as a military brat while her father served in the U.S. Air Force. These early experiences in growing and thriving in different parts of the world, began with her mother, whose work in social justice and activism influenced Sonya at a young age. Gloria, while at the National Women’s Employment and Education organization worked with disadvantaged women in learning to become carpenters, plumbers and electricians, in order to earn a livable wage and become self-sufficient, allowing them to leave their abusers and poverty.

In 1995, Rosario began working with Head Start in small agricultural communities in Mountain Home, Grandview and Bruneau, Idaho. In 1998, this multifaceted woman with an enriching history as an activist, artist, creator, and public speaker, worked with a political watch dog organization called United Vision for Idaho, where Rosario was the Lead Organizer on Campaign Finance Reform. In 1999, Rosario founded the Women of Color Alliance (WOCA), a non-profit organization that encourages the entrepreneurial spirit in women living on reservations and in rural Idaho by placing their handcrafted items on store shelves at Ten Thousand Villages, and then into Dunia Marketplace. These organizations benefited indigenous women, with an opportunity to earn a first or supplemental income. It is through this journey of growth Sonya witnessed the work of other women that there was enormous opportunity through community for them to leave the legacy of their work through film.

Her film, The Sofa Diaries is dedicated to her mother, Gloria Reyes, a significant influence in her life followed by Amy Trice, former Chairwoman of the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho, who was the only documented woman to declare a war on the US Government, as a Sovereign Nation in 1974 (the basis for the film: Idaho’s Forgotten War). The cornerstone of Sonya Rosario Productions is built on the cultural experiences and enriching history that has inspired the work cultivated throughout the artist’s life. Notable business affiliations include founding the Women of Color Alliance in 1999, and as the Executive Director from 1999-2016; Organizer for United Vision for Idaho, in 1998-2003 and a Family Advocate for Head Start from 1995-1998. Civic/nonprofit affiliations include; working with the Latino Economic and Development Center, Ann Frank Memorial Center and Idaho Women’s Network to name a few.

As the work progressed, in 2002, Rosario interviewed Native sisters throughout Idaho on the historical impact of the word “squaw,” and created the film, “S” Word. In 2010, the ground-breaking film, Idaho’s Forgotten War on the declaration of war by the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho on the US Government in 1974 premiered at Boise State University, and was then screened on Idaho PBS. The film was accepted to the San Francisco Native American Film Festival in 2012.

As a grassroots organizer and filmmaker Rosario’s creative endeavors give voice to people who deserve to be recognized for their struggles to advance their communities. The work is an intersection at the identities of gender, ethnicity, indigeneity, environment, and relationships. Sonya Rosario is known for her films Idaho’s Forgotten War, The Historical Impact of the “S” Word,The Sofa Diaries.

Recent awards include Idaho Business Review nomination for Women of the Year 2020, Geena Davis-Bentonville Film Festival Award (1st Place in 2016) and the Idaho Hometown Hero Award in 2016 from JRM Foundation.

Awards and honors received
2020 Idaho Business Review, Women of Year Award Nominee
2016 Geena Davis-Bentonville Film Festival Award (1st Place)
2016 Idaho Hometown Hero Award, JRM Foundation
2010 Anti-Shackling Bill Award, Western States Center
2011 Smart Women, Smart Money Cultural Grant, Zions Bank
2009 Women of Color Alliance Achievement Award, Women of Color Alliance
2007 Legacy Leadership Award, Spelman College
2001 Women Making History Award, Boise State University

Significant professional accomplishments
2020 Women of the Year Nominee, Idaho Business Review
2019 Keynote Speaker, College of Southern Idaho
2019 Speaker, Women Ignite Conference
2019 Speaker, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
2019 National Association Latino Independent Producers
2019 Women in Film Association
2019 The Sofa Dairies Film, stories highlighting powerful Idaho women
2019 Idaho's Forgotten War Film and Amy Trice, Inducted into Idaho Historical Museum
2015 The Sofa Diaries, Idaho Film Commission Grant
2014 Trail Blazer Nominee, National Association Women's Business Organization
2010 Idaho's Forgotten War, Idaho PBS
2010 Idaho's Forgotten War, Journey Stories Smithsonian Selections
2010 HERO nominee, Boise State University, Cultural Center
2003 Women's Campaign School at Yale University Certificate of Achievement