Nick Williams, a College Experience graduate, and current service recipient of Living Resources had a small role in a movie that won top honors at the NYS Writers Institute’s Albany Film Festival at SUNY Albany on Saturday, April 1. In his big screen debut, Nick, who has cerebral palsy, acted in a family dinner scene filmed in Ballston Spa, NY.

The movie “Laurina,” which won the Best Dramatic Short and Overall Short Film at the festival, takes place in 1921. It tells the true-to-life story of Tom and Lora Lee Ecobelli’s grandmother who was sexually abused by her stepfather and became pregnant when she was 13 years old. To stop the abuse, Laurina found the resources within herself to take her stepfather to court and ultimately won the case.

Lora Lee said she was delighted to have Nick participate in the film. She and the whole production team wanted to be as inclusive as possible in telling the story, saying, “This is the real world. I wanted to show the way it was.” Lora Lee teaches an acting program at Sage College which is very inclusive, welcoming people of all abilities but she added that “It’s not always that way in the outside world.” She said, “I look out for Nick and try to find opportunities for him in the industry, but I have to be honest, it is still very challenging.”

All involved with the production of Laurina were overwhelmed to win two awards at the Albany Film Festival and emphasized their desire to use this movie as an awareness campaign, partnering with the crime unit and sexual assault center in Albany. Nick attended both the film festival at SUNY Albany and the movie premier at the Madison Theater in Albany, and said the whole weekend of events was “invigorating,” adding, “It was an amazing and eye-opening experience.” He hopes to continue working in the acting industry.

Moving forward to new projects, Lora Lee is looking to increase her dedication to utilizing a diverse cast. She said, “I am dedicated to being even more inclusive with the people we choose to play meaningful roles in the film.” She hopes that any future projects are used as a forum to raise awareness on different serious and important subjects.