Austin filmmaker Lydia Isnanto on mission to normalize mental health

An Austin filmmaker is on a mission to normalize mental health through her work, motherhood, and standing up against Asian hate. 

Lydia Isnanto celebrated becoming an American citizen by running 13.1 miles at the Austin Marathon.  

"Running means a lot to me especially during this pandemic," Isnanto says, getting ready for her daily 7-mile trek at Lady Bird Lake.  

The pandemic took her life in a different direction. It halted her filmmaking career, but it also brought the gift of motherhood and a new drive to fight Asian hate.  

"I don’t have many stories of experiencing racism myself, but because I’m Asian and I see my community and people who look like me being attacked it hurts me," Isnanto says. "Somehow we feel that burden, somehow we feel the situations as a community. In solidarity, we want to share together in running"

Her running club of fellow Indonesian Americans committed to running as much as they could in early 2021. Each mile ran meant $1 to help raise funds for families of the victims in the Atlanta Spa killings.  


For Isnanto, running is more than just a workout. It’s a way to help her through mental wellness.  

"Ever since I gave birth to my first son at the age of 42, I also fight an unbalanced thyroid, so running gives me therapy as well. I just feel completely different before running and after running, I feel like, I feel alive, I feel young, I feel I feel like a different person, I can accomplish a lot of things," Isnanto says.  

Just before the pandemic, Isnanto wrote, edited, and produced a short film, "This Is Me",  with the goal of normalizing conversions around mental health.  


"I would like for people to look at me as human, it doesn't no matter what my background is, and don’t judge me because of where I came from or my race," Isnanto says.  

Since the pandemic and motherhood, most of her filmmaking focuses on vlogging her daily life but hopes to one day get back to short films.  

"You’re human, I’m human, we’re both created beautifully by our creator, so that is what human that I see," Isnanto says.  

Isnanto says she’s focused on training for a full marathon in October and will be vlogging her experiences via social media.