Local natives in focus

Published 9:02 am Wednesday, March 7, 2018

The 90th annual Academy Awards took place Sunday night and several area natives could be found at the ceremonies, highlighting important issues.

Jan Rader, who graduated from Ironton High School and now serves as Huntington’s first female fire chief, was on hand at the ceremony, along with Necia Freeman, of Brown Bag Ministries, and Cabell County Drug Court Judge Patricia Keller.

The three women are the focus of the film, “Heroin(e),” by West Virginia filmmakers Elaine McMillion Sheldon and Kerrin Sheldon, who were also in attendance.

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The documentary, which can be viewed on Netflix, was nominated for Best Short Subject Documentary and details the opioid epidemic that has hit our region and the efforts to combat it.

While the film did not win the award, those involved have still accomplished much, bringing the crisis hitting the Tri-State to national attention.

Rader has served well as an ambassador for our area, speaking with numerous media outlets, from “Meet the Press” to “Roll Call,” sharing the story of Huntington and what her crews face in responding to the staggering overdose rate in the city.

The “Heroin(e)” crew were not the only names from the Tri-State at the show.

Actress Ashley Judd, an Ashland native, graduate of Paul Blazer High School and member of the city’s most famous family, was a presenter during the ceremony.

Judd walked the red carpet with fellow star Mira Sorvino. Both women were among the dozens of actresses who came forward to tell of the sexual harassment and blacklisting they endured at the hands of film producer Harvey Weinstein.

Their testimony helped to end Weinstein’s career and they continue to speak out on issues impacting women, not just in the film industry, but across society, from sex assault and harassment to disparities in pay.

We commend Rader, the “Heroin(e)” filmmakers and Judd for their work in raising awareness of these problems in our society. Their efforts have made our region proud.