Emily ’23—a budding filmmaker, activist, and artist—is achieving distinction for her commitment to the arts in the service of social justice. When she’s not doing her RLS schoolwork, Emily makes art centered on critical issues affecting adolescents, such as race, struggles with body image, and the plight of unhoused people.
Emily was recently invited to speak about her work and the personal experiences that inspire her at Parlay House, an “inclusive series of in-person & digital gatherings for women that fosters authentic connections and supportive relationships” based in both New York and the Bay Area.
According to Emily, “It was an honor to speak at Parlay House. It was empowering and relieving to share my story with a larger audience. I spoke about my family’s relationship with the authorities being conflicted because of several members’ documentation status. It gave me the opportunity to share a story that has for so long felt suffocating. A large part of freeing yourself from negative experiences is sharing them, and it is comforting to help others by doing so.”
The opportunity to speak at Parlay House came about via Tina’s Angels, a Los Angeles-based mentoring group of which Emily is a member. The group’s goal is to help under-resourced youth create visual and interpretive art and gain exposure to necessary life skills. Tina’s Angels provided Emily’s entry into filmmaking. She explains, “My peers and I were given access to advanced editing software, audio equipment, and other tools to sharpen and immerse ourselves into film making and editing. We meet every Saturday and have mentors that check up on us during the week.”
Emily’s goals include writing a series of books featuring characters that look like her; returning home to South LA to help others break the poverty trap; and becoming a US congresswoman. She ultimately hopes to lead as U.S. president. She also plans to keep making films: “I use filming, my voice, and writing as a form of expression and advocacy. The art of filmmaking is a weapon, and I plan to use it to combat the inequalities in our society and the challenges we face as adolescents.”
When asked to describe Emily, Dr. Mashadi Matabane, Stevenson’s director of equity and inclusion, explains, “Emily is whipsmart, empathetic, hilarious, self aware, and socially aware. Her word is her bond. What I appreciate about Stevenson students like Emily is that they can kick their knowledge about the latest in U.S. and world politics and then catch you up on what’s popping on TikTok, the latest slang, or whatever is the latest challenge on social media. Overall, Emily knows the world is hers for the taking but also for the sharing! She truly believes in the hard work of building community; in fostering respect. And, really, no pressure to Emily, but I do fully expect she will do something to help run some aspect of the world one day; and we will all be better off for it!”
An image of Emily’s recent work can be found below. Emily is also editorials editor for Stevenson’s student newspaper, the Tusitala.