La Shawn Pagán is a human and environmental rights activist, journalist, writer, photographer, director, producer, and filmmaker from Puerto Rico. (Born December 10, 1978)
Born in New York City to Puerto Rican parents, her mother [Isabel García Rosario] and father [Héctor Pagán Maysonet] lived in New York until La Shawn was five years old before moving to Puerto Rico to raise her and her older siblings Giovanni Pagán (a tattoo artist) and Sharon Byington [neé Pagán] (a paralegal). Although she was born in New York, she considers herself to be Puerto Rican and not ‘of Puerto Rican descent’ since she spent most of her childhood in the island.
As a child, La Shawn often traveled with her mother and older sister between New York and Puerto Rico attending several grade schools both in NYC and Puerto Rico. While she was considered top of her class in the latter, due to her shyness in new social settings she was placed in special needs classes in the New York Public School system where she was forced to take English as a Second Language (ESL) courses due to her “limited English speaking skills” since she barely spoke to anyone. At age seven, before she could get used to a new school she was moved, once again to Puerto Rico, where she finished the rest of her grade school education graduating to Junior High School and completing High School in 1996.
At 17, La Shawn was accepted to the Universidad Interamericana – Guayama campus in Puerto Rico where she was due to study architecture. However, she decided to take some time off to mourn the passing of her mother due to AIDS related diseases from the previous summer. After a little over a year off, La Shawn realized she had lost her ability to draw and decided to move to New York where she could pursue other educational endeavors. Once in New York, she attended the now bankrupt Drake Business Schools, where she completed an Associate Degree in computer programming. Almost a half decade later she enrolled at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, where she studied Criminology and Criminal Justice – during which time she worked two full time jobs in order to pay for tuition.
After almost a decade of working in the legal field, La Shawn became incredibly depressed by nature and intensity of criminal and civil cases she was handling. She then resigned to her last position as a Paralegal, taking a summer off to decide what she was going to do next. Soon after, she entered the private sector where she worked for the governmental agency Northrop Grumman [NG] as a contractor for the United States Postal Service [USPS]. After a year and a half of working for NG, La Shawn decided she was going to pursue her passion for writing and after starting several blogs to test out audience reception to her unique style of writing and receiving an incredible amount of positive feedback she resigned to her position with the USPS and became a full-time writer. Soon, she was writing for several blogs and in 2008 she published her first OpEd about the increasing crime wave afflicting Puerto Rico for AOL Latino, this among other published articles earned her an internship at the El Correo de Queens/Queens Courier in Queens County New York.
At the Correo, La Shawn worked with award-winning journalist Aisha Al-Muslim, who was the then editor for the Spanish bi-weekly publication and learned the ins and outs of reporting for local newspapers as well as the intricacies and difference between blog, newspaper and magazine writing. She’s said that her time at the newspaper was “pivotal in making my writing career a strong one.”
After several more internships, La Shawn was able to establish herself as a human rights violations correspondent at the United Nations; publishing several articles on femicide, child soldiers, as well as a series of articles on climate change. She also collaborated toward a book on global issues published by Aignos [pronounced ‘I know’] Publishing titled There is No Cholera in Zimbabwe her entry being an in-depth essay on gender-based violence. She also worked for the company as an editor and worked on manuscripts by Theresa Varela (Covering the Sun with My Hand her debut novel as well as Nights of Indigo Blue, a Daisy Muñiz Mystery), Ricardo Rodriguez (Aventuras Sureales de Dr. Mingus), Alvaro Leiva (Iwana – experimental poetry book) and Jonathan Marcantoni (The Feast of San Sebastian). After two years of working for Aignos, La Shawn left the company to focus on filmmaking.
As a photographer she’s been published in several online and print magazines and newspapers. Making the cover of The Brooklyn Home Reporter and El Barrio News and several online publications. Her photographs have been featured in NotiMex, MediaGlobal News, UNDP. She also provided the photo that would make the cover to Varela’s debut novel.
Film school and film career
La Shawn attended the Colegio de Cinematografia, Artes y Televisión – CCAT (College of Cinematography, Arts and Television) in Bayamón Puerto Rico, during the time she began to develop her first documentary Forced into Silence which focuses on male victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. She also co-wrote, wrote, directed, and produced several short films and digital poems; including: El Viaje del Amor/The voyage of love, La Entrega, El Pasado esta Muerto, and For Mom. She has also given talks about domestic violence and social awareness at La Guardia Community College in Long Island City, NY.
While encountering a production hurdle with Silence, La Shawn began filming and released Forever Boogies in collaboration with The Good Men Project – a short length documentary that features interviews an eclectic group of surfers and body boarders about their efforts to maintain a clean environment for the future of the sport.The film was positively received and became part of the Official Selection for the 2015 Rincón International Film Festival.
Since then, La Shawn has worked as an adviser to several screenplays, while developing a few of her own and developing the second and third installation of the environmentally themed documentary trilogy that began with Forever Boogies. She has also partnered with the local non-profit Puerto Rico Surf and Skate Club to produce short documentaries and other video content for their YouTube Channel.
Advocacy & Personal life
La Shawn currently lives in Puerto Rico with her rescued dogs, and pig. She’s a part of the “EveryBodyInAds” campaign by Trinkets Jewellry furthering her work as an advocate for positive body image. Because of her deep love for animals, she adopted a vegan lifestyle to promote health, environmental and animal conservation/protection. She’s a snorkeling enthusiast and body boarder.
Salt Water (December 2016) – writer, director, producer, editor
Silent no More (December 2016) – writer, director, producer, editor
Puerto Rico Surf and Skate Club (July 2016) – editor, director, producer
Forced into Silence (Official Preview) – writer, editor, director, producer
Capu Body Fit Making Champions (January 2015) – director, editor
Forever Boogies (December 2014) – narrator, writer, director, producer
El pasado está muerto (unreleased – April 2014) – writer, director, producer, editor
La Entrega (unreleased) – co-writer, producer
Forced into Silence (May 2014) – initial interviews – director, writer, co-editor, producer
Opening the door to the Abuse of Men (May 2014) – writer, director, co-editor, producer
El viaje del Amor/The Voyage of Love (May 2014) – director, producer
For Mom (digital Poem) (May 2014) – narrator, editor, director