This Latino Director Was Deeply Affected by a Family Tragedy, So He Turned it into a Triumph
Have you checked the credits of TV hits Glee and American Horror Story? No? It’s OK. We did, and one of the talented names behind those hits is Latino director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon. Remember it. This rising film director’s second feature, the comedy-drama Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, wowed audiences at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. And it wouldn’t have happened if Gomez-Rejon hadn’t been through some really tough times. Here’s how Gomez-Rejon built his career and turned his personal struggles into professional triumphs.
He’s a Proud Tejano
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Photo Credit: @artbites_maite
Alfonso, or “Alfonsito” as he was probably called in his Spanish-speaking home, was born and raised in Laredo, Texas. He loves his hometown so much that he’s vowed to make a movie about it one day.
Film Comes First
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Gomez-Rejon has been obsessed with movies since he was a kid. He grew up idolizing Martin Scorsese after watching the classics: Mean Streets, Taxi Driver and Raging Bull.
Scorsese’s Got His Back …
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Gomez-Rejon’s dream of working with Scorsese came true when he earned a gig as a production assistant on the famed director’s 1995 crime drama Casino. Gomez-Rejon proudly admits he continues to receive advice and support from Scorsese.
… So Did Ephron
Photo Credit: Me Earl and the Dying Girl / Facebook
Gomez-Rejon also scored big-time gigs with Nora Ephron, the writer-director of When Harry Met Sally andSleepless in Seattle. He first worked with Ephron in You’ve Got Mail, but his professional life changed when Ephron made Paramount Studios hire Gomez-Rejon as second-unit director on Lucky Numbers, which allowed him to join the Directors Guild of America.
And Murphy, Too
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Ryan Murphy, the creator of Glee, came knocking after Gomez-Rejon worked as a second unit director on the filmsBabel, Argo and Eat Pray Love. Gomez-Rejon went on to direct eight episodes of Glee, including the uber-popular Lady Gaga tribute episode “Born This Way.”
He’s Got a Dark Side
From #AlfonsoGomezRejon, director of #AmericanHorrorStory, comes #TheTownThatDreadedSundown. A rare #horror #film that says it's based on a true story…and means it. To learn more, visit gcfilmfestival.com
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Photo Credit: @gcfilmfest
Gomez-Rejon then tackled paranormal for FX, committing himself to directing a dozen episodes of American Horror Story, also created by Murphy. His work on American Horror Story: Coven garnered him an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries. READ: Vin, Michelle & The Rock @ Furious 7 Premiere
He Loves Working with Friends
Credit: Chanel / YouTube
It’s certainly true in the case of Gomez-Rejon. His first feature film, The Town That Dreaded Sundown, was produced by none other than Ryan Murphy. And the visually striking commercial for Blue de Chanel? The video was directed by Scorsese, with Gomez-Rejon serving as writer and second unit director.
He Can Also Go Solo
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In 2010, Gomez-Rejon’s Me and Earl and The Dying Girl premiered at Sundance and won both the U.S. Dramatic Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize. It led to a bidding war that shattered previous film festival records. Fox Searchlight took home the goods after dropping $12 million.
He’s a Daddy’s Boy
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Gomez-Rejon dedicated Me and Earl and The Dying Girl to his late father, Julio Cesar Gomez-Rejon. He says the film’s theme — that a person’s story doesn’t end with death — was inspired by the impact his father continues to have on his life.