Vishavjit Singh and Ryan Westra are the creative partners behind American Sikh, an animated documentary capturing Vishavjit's story as a turban and bearded Sikh man in America.
Vishavjit Singh is a Harlem, New York City based illustrator, writer, performance artist, TEDx speaker, DEI advocate and creator of www.Sikhtoons.com. He got his spark for cartooning in the post 9/11 tragedy when Americans with turbaned and bearded countenance became targets of hate/bias crimes.
For the past few years Vishavjit has been traveling across the U.S. with his Sikh Captain America persona armed with a turban, beard and humor to tackle fear, anxiety, bigotry and intolerance. He uses storytelling as a tool to create a space for challenging conversations around identity, race, bias, vulnerability and how to be agents for good change. Vishavjit hosts talks & keynotes in schools, universities, government agencies and companies including Google, Apple, Amazon, NASA & Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. He is currently working in the FDNY Office of Diversity and Inclusion. His message and work has been covered by a number of news outlets, including the New York Times, NPR, BBC, The Atlantic, Huffington Post, The Guardian and Time Magazine.
Above all else, Ryan is passionate about telling compelling, creative stories that can change the world for the better.
Over Ryan’s career, he’s been fortunate to capture many powerful and important stories. He’s traveled rural Punjab filming undocumented stories from a Sikh genocide, documented the struggle of indigenous peoples against oil companies in Montana, followed the HIV/AIDS outreach work of an NGO in Mozambique, filmed the intensity of para-athletes pushing their limits, shot content for Headspace around a monastery in the Himalayas about mindfulness, shot a documentary about re-housing the most at-risk homeless in Los Angeles, edited an HBO feature documentary about reproductive rights, and has had minor roles on Netflix and HBO series that deal with wrongful conviction and bringing cult leaders to justice.
Ryan has also been fortunate to work with some incredible clients. His commercial clients include Verizon, Dreamworks, the Atlantic, the BBC, FX Channel, Coachella, Headspace, Christie’s, and he’s had his work featured on FunnyOrDie, Upworthy, The Huffington Post, CNN, and the BBC. In 2020, he co-founded a boutique production company with Benjamin Fischinger called WestFish, which primarily focuses on commercial content in the medical space.
Ryan’s latest film, American Sikh, is the sixth film he’s worked on about Sikhs and Sikh issues and the second film he’s worked on with Vishavjit. Ryan and Vishavjit have worked closely for almost 4 years to craft the origin story of his superhero alter ego. In the future, Ryan and Vishavjit plan to continue working together to create compelling films that helps introduce more positive representation for Sikhs into the media landscape.