Having any type of philosophy about something that you are passionate about brings its perks and its disadvantages. For one, you are so engrossed with the concept of the medium and the impact that it does to audiences worldwide, but the downside of that is critically realizing the immense change that needs to be done. My name is Yuleisy and I am a 22 years old film student at John Jay of Criminal Justice, and two years ago I realized that I wanted to become a film director.
I learned much of film by taking classes at John Jay, and my interest became bigger and bigger. I became engrossed with this medium, and my extensive research about films and the making of films are something that I am really passionate about. I decided that although film has revolutionized in so little time, there were things that I saw that they were not right. I want to become part of this medium, to express my perspective into what it means to be a woman of color in such a position in film. To be living in a time of awareness and need for these new different perspectives come to be important towards not only the influence in Hollywood, but beyond.
As the research never stops, I encountered a documentary that spoke about the circumstances of being a female director in Hollywood. There was a statement that really alarmed my choice of dedicating my time, my thoughts in this profession, and it was something that I would never forget. She explained that:
“If I could give my younger self some advice, is to not get into directing.”
I am aware that nothing that you are passionate is easy, and the hard work is satisfying, but her output of such bold statement seemed out of the frustration that she lived every day. This director explained the suffering she had to endure for just doing what she loves. That she, among us, wanted to use her perspective and present this new idea to the world, only to be reclaimed to be a weak piece of art. As an artist that is one of the biggest worries that we encounter, this doubt and fear that comes by as we produce our work is always there, and never can get rid of it.
This becomes extra stressful when the pigment of my skin, are renowned to be less than because of who they are and the potential towards what they can accomplish. Opportunities are rather scarce, and in the film industry it becomes rather hard to present your work, after being shamed to be less than the usual recruit for any movie that is out there.
I want to be part of the group that shows movies which cast great characters that look like me. I never had that when I was younger, and I craved to see in television characters that looked like me, with different shades portray stories in an environment that shows struggle and success at their own choices. I want to give my time to this method of engaging with audiences around the world, and ultimately break down the barriers towards this sickening vice that must be stopped once and for all. I don’t want to feel judged that not only as a woman, but a woman of color, I am not given the same rights to direct movies because of my biological nature, and because of the texture of my skin.
As individuals, we strive to become unique in our own different ways, and that the extreme sexism and racism we encounter everyday should not be broadcasted as a struggle, but as a fuel to prove everyone who can, is, and will doubt you wrong. The work that is produced, written and directed by women of color, for the audiences speaks more than words themselves.
It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. I do believe to this idea, but what’s more beautiful about it is the process to our minds go through while we are processing new information. As we live now in a technological age, we strive to capture audience’s attention and in today’s date, there are many women of color who are directors, producers and writers towards the engagement to film. It’s those women that places the bricks to the yellow road for future directors like me, to strive towards success.
Ms. Ava DuVernay is one of the most prominent woman directors to today’s date. This exemplary woman whom to this date has regained respect of many explores and shares her perspective towards not only her roots, but the impact that those events shaped us to what we became today. It was on January 18th, 2016, on Martin Luther King Day, where I first encountered the movie Selma and I cried crocodile tears in the moments where Dr. King had to face the people of whom lost their lives towards obtaining the right to vote, and the story of the four little girls, which still to this day haunts me.
DuVernay touched on the little stories, the little instances where suffering was prominent and it brought out to me emotions that I had never felt before. The sadness, confusion and shame of the people who let this happen, let innocent people get treated as the scum of the earth. At the end, her bringing these emotions out of me as the audience, that’s the essence of filmmaking. To ignite feelings and look into the screen and be taken back, or forward to time to the victories and low moments to the screen, and reflect towards what that instance, how that environment, has changed us for the better or for worse. I want to do that, I want to ignite that same feeling to my benefit and I will do that…soon.