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Former Wingate soccer player headed to the Oscars

Kerrin Sheldon, a former Wingate soccer player, has carried on the importance of physical activity in his daily life. Although he no longer plays as part of a team, Sheldon still makes it a top priority to get in physical exercise each day and says it helps keep efficient in his work as a filmmaker. Wingate University photo

When he left the Wingate soccer field 10 years ago, Kerrin Sheldon wasn’t sure what he was going to do as a career. He certainly didn’t imagine his path would lead to him meeting Kobe Bryant and Meryl Streep as an Oscar-nominated producer and director of photography.

Sheldon and his wife, Elaine McMillion Sheldon, produced “Heroin(e),” a documentary that has been nominated this year for an Academy Award for best documentary (short subject). Now playing on Netflix, “Heroin(e)” follows three women combatting the opioid epidemic in Huntington, West Virginia, which is known as the overdose capital of America. Sheldon and his wife were looking for a hopeful entry into the crisis that would focus on the people on the front lines rather than the drug use. The film has been screened in dozens of communities and is sparking a conversation about drug use in Appalachia and across the United States.

Recently, the couple attended a luncheon with all of the Oscar nominees and had the opportunity to meet a few of their filmmaking heroes. 

“We feel like we’ve already won. We’ve been nominated, which is something you just never expect from a documentary or as a documentary filmmaker in general,” Sheldon says. “Being in the room with so many talented filmmakers is just so cool.”

Kerrin Sheldon and Elaine McMillion Sheldon started working on films together before they were married. A West Virginia native, Kerrin Sheldon hopes his documentary work will help paint a fuller and brighter picture of Appalachia and what life is like there. Photo by Rebecca Kiger

After graduating from Wingate in 2008 with a degree in communications, Sheldon traveled the world making documentary and commercial films before returning to his home state of West Virginia. He and Elaine are already working on new projects and are excited for the opportunities this nomination brings to their careers.

“The one thing we’ve always said is, if it can do anything for us, we just want it to make more work,” Sheldon says. "The goal and mission was always to make a career out of this, and I think the Oscar nomination allows us to do that a little easier. We hope it allows us to do more of what we love. "

The 90th Academy Awards will be held on Sunday, March 4.