Sex Trafficking Film Premiering at Alamo Drafthouse Stars Local Actor

Alamo Drafthouse theater. | Image from Alamo Drafthouse

When Matt Socia read the script for Wake Up, he talked to his wife about playing the role of Bob. “We both agreed that this was a challenge,” said Socia, who splits his time between Los Angeles and Dallas. That’s because Wake Up is a movie about the sex trafficking of minors.

“When I got the call to audition for it, I was up for a couple different of roles in the film, and I ended up getting this role, which I’m very happy with,” said Socia, who lives in Richardson-Northwood Hills with his family. “Bob is not exactly an outstanding gentleman. On the outside, he appears to be a great guy but, on the dark side, he’s off doing horrible things.”

Wake Up tells the story of a quiet community forever changed by a daring rescue attempt after a pair of foster youths are targeted and forced into a sex trafficking ring.

“Trafficking can happen to anyone,” said writer-director Janet Craig. “Our movie shows how lives intersect and impact each other in suburbia and in the city. It shows that all socioeconomic backgrounds are affected by trafficking, not just foster youth. We show that there are girls raised in wonderful homes who are trafficked and boys are trafficked as well. We do have a boy that’s being trafficked in the film only because we want to show the truth of it.”

Craig and Producer Kristen Wise are both foster mothers who know firsthand how vulnerable foster children can be.

“When people are in foster care, they are more vulnerable because they don’t have parents that are looking for them,” Craig said. “They might have foster parents who are looking for them, which is great, but they already are wounded. They are dealing with the fact that they’ve been neglected, abused, or have the trauma of their parents dying, and don’t have the resources of people behind them that are there to help.”

The 92-minute feature premieres at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in downtown Dallas on Friday, January 7, at 6 p.m., with a red carpet that begins at 5:30 p.m.

“It’s actually a very special screening because I can invite my family and friends who live in Dallas who don’t normally get to be part of something like this,” said Socia, who is known for co-starring alongside Chazz Palminteri in a 2014 movie called Taken for Ransom.

After the screening, Craig will take questions from the audience, along with Socia, Wise, and Rachel C. Thomas, a trafficking survivor and advocate who is now an appointed member of the United States Advisory Board for Human Trafficking.

“Matt was cast because he looks like the world’s nicest guy and we needed someone who would be lovable and that people would connect with,” Craig told The Dallas Express. “He also looks like he’s a doctor. He’s just a wonderful actor and he’s absolutely phenomenal to work with. Matt is also a pretty well-known TV and film actor, and I knew that he is a professional.”

Dallas is one of ten cities on the film’s road tour this month. January has been designated National Sex Trafficking Awareness Month to raise community awareness about the hidden victimization of foster youth in suburban America who, too often, fall prey to sex trafficking.

“Dallas is an area where there is a lot of trafficking going on and we wanted to make sure that we brought the film to this area where there’s already great things going on to stop trafficking,” Craig said in an interview.

The FBI estimates that more than 100,000 children and teens in the U.S. are victims of sex trafficking, and 60 percent of victims have been within the foster care or child welfare system.

“There’s not as much accountability,” said Wise. “Group home kids tend to make up a big percentage of it because there are a lot of kids and not parents. There are a few staff but the staff shifts and changes and isn’t there long term.”

Texas ranks second in the country for trafficking prevalence, with more than 300,000 annual victims reported statewide, according to data from New Life New Friends. This Dallas nonprofit helps trafficking victims overcome their backgrounds of abuse, addiction, poverty, and limited opportunities.

“They’re being trafficked in the home and while they’re being raped by the trafficker, its being videotaped and sold as pornography to people all over the world that are watching it and paying to see it,” Craig said. “Like any drug, using pornography is addictive and it escalates so that people end up doing things they wouldn’t have done before.”

In Dallas alone, an estimated 400 teens are sold for sex every night as part of a $99 million illegal industry.

“Group homes can be wonderful but there isn’t the accountability that there would be in a foster home. However, in this movie, it happens in a foster home and that’s just because what happened to this foster youth could happen to anybody,” Wise told The Dallas Express. “One of the things about foster youth is when you have one person that you’re accountable to and really cares for you, it’s harder to fall through the cracks. It takes one caring adult to really help a youth not get trafficked.”

After the Dallas screening, several more pre-release premieres are scheduled for major U.S. cities in January, including Atlanta, Nashville, Chicago, the Twin Cities, Milwaukee, San Diego, and Los Angeles.

“We are aware of wonderful nonprofit organizations working on the front lines in Texas, like Street Grace,” Craig added. “What we do at each location after the film screening is help the audience connect with their local frontline advocates to support this cause of fighting trafficking, to wake up and work together.”

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1 Comment

  1. Bob Ricker

    I’ve seen this … it is something everybody who cares about our children and youth should see


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