Write an essay where you tell us about what drives you in your pursuit of your graduate degree.

I was inspired to pursue a graduate degree for the following reason: My goal is to tell stories about complicated and imperfect people through motion pictures and television. Ultimately, I intend to direct dramatic feature films that center people of colour, queer, disabled, and underrepresented communities. Films like this, about marginalized people and the spaces they occupy matter because they have the power to expose one’s vulnerabilities, thereby representing an aspect of one’s lived experience that is not shown in mainstream media enough.

I think films are portals into the soul. Films show all of us, irrespective of the labels we identity with, that it is worth exploring worlds both like and unlike the ones we know. In my life, I continue to be intrigued by questions like: where do the silenced parts of our narratives go to be told? And what happens when these stories are told for us and not by us? I grew up believing that films about people who look like me, namely, black and female, did not exist and if they did were based on reductive stereotypes. I am going to film school because I know that my voice is necessary, relevant, and essential to seeing that the next generation of little girls who look like me grow up in a world where the idea of them wanting to direct, write, produce, or play a leading role in a story about their becoming is not an anomaly but an undisputed necessity.

Every experience I have had thus far, both professionally and academically, began with a desire to know more. The ethos of USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, where I will be a student in the fall, energizes me because it encourages students to bring their whole selves to their work, understanding that one’s unique qualities, combined with a hunger to create, produce, and analyze is valuable. I believe that education is power. The opportunity to study in graduate school is not only humbling, but central to my life’s mission: to grow, learn, expand, and imagine.

Nana from California
University of Southern California