Whittier College alum celebrates behind-scenes role in Oscar-nominated ‘American Fiction’

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Whittier College alum celebrates behind-scenes role in Oscar-nominated ‘American Fiction’

Whittier College alum celebrates behind-scenes role in Oscar-nominated ‘American Fiction’

Setting New Career Goals and Succeeding at Them: The Journey of Emily Baeza

Emily Baeza, 33, played a pivotal role as the second assistant director in the Oscar-nominated film “American Fiction,” which has garnered five nominations, including best picture, at the 96th Academy Awards scheduled for Sunday, March 10.

In high school, Baeza was encouraged by one of her teachers at Montebello High School to apply to Whittier College, a four-year liberal arts college known for its small class sizes and customizable programs. Joining the Whittier Scholars Program, she tailored her studies to cover a diverse mix of journalism, creative writing, and environmental science, with a focus on media and community interaction.

Whittier College alum celebrates behind-scenes role in Oscar-nominated ‘American Fiction’
Whittier College alum celebrates behind-scenes role in Oscar-nominated ‘American Fiction’

 

After graduating in 2013, Baeza worked at City Year, a nonprofit in Los Angeles and Boston dedicated to improving performance in school and developing professional skills for students in public schools. Her role expanded her marketing and filmmaking opportunities, leading her to earn a master’s degree in civic media from Emerson College in Boston.

Diversity and Collaboration in the Film Industry

Diversity has always been a core value for Baeza, both in front of and behind the camera. Her involvement with Women in Film & Video New England helped her connect with opportunities like “American Fiction.”

Baeza’s work as an assistant director involved creating daily schedules and managing logistical details to keep the project on time and budget. She emphasized the collaborative nature of filmmaking, stating, “Film is one of the most collaborative, team-based professions you could be a part of.”

Impact of “American Fiction” and Future Goals

“American Fiction,” set in Boston, features a diverse cast and tackles themes of Black media representation. Baeza’s responsibilities included ensuring actors were prepared for filming, managing their transport, and overseeing makeup and wardrobe timetables.

Now based in Burbank, Baeza expressed her excitement for the film’s Oscar nominations, especially for Sterling K. Brown and Jeffery Wright, whom she praised as talented actors and wonderful people.

Despite challenges like the impact of artificial intelligence and social media on the film industry, Baeza believes that the success of films like “American Fiction” highlights the importance of talented and passionate individuals in creating great art.

Her advice to aspiring filmmakers and career changers is to set clear goals and speak them into existence without fear.

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