Back in May, NBC contacted me to shoot some portraits for their upcoming annual production of Red Nose Day, a TV special that features actors and celebrities performing skits and sketches with the aim of raising money for charities across the globe. This year they raised over $21 million that went toward helping children in need all over the world.
One of the partner charities for this year’s show was United Way, who have offices here in Seattle. They were working closely with a local woman named Montrai Williams, who goes by Trai. Trai was homeless in Seattle for almost 10 years, since the age of 13. To help tell her story as part of the Red Nose Day show, I was tasked with shooting portraits of Trai in the neighborhood where she lived as a homeless youth – Seattle’s University District.
As we walked through the neighborhood, Trai stopped to
talk with people she knew from her time spent living on the streets. She showed us the alleyways and doorsteps where she used to sleep and talked with us about her life and survival as a homeless youth. Trai now works with agencies like United Way and Seattle’s Mockingbird Society, working with and advocating for homeless youth. She has a loving partner, with whom she has big plans for the future (they love talking about those plans). Hearing Trai’s story and talking with her, it’s obvious she’s going to do big things with her life – and perhaps even more importantly to her – help others to do the same.
See some of the outtakes from our shoot below: