Jackie Cruz went from her “death bed to a red carpet.”
Jackie Cruz was a rebellious 17-year-old when tragedy struck and changed her life forever. Cruz and her friends were rushing to get to a free concert when the driver of the car she was in lost control and sent Cruz flying out of the car. Cruz was in a coma for 72 hours as doctors treated her kidney, broken vertebras and performed brain surgery to remove a blood clot before it could cause a life threatening complication.
Her mother was so devastated by the accident that she didn’t eat while Cruz was in her coma. Cruz’s mother ended up losing a baby she was pregnant with at the time. Despite the heartbreaking consequences, Cruz looks at that accident as her wake up call. After the accident, Cruz recommitted herself to her dream that she had given up on before she rebelled. She started to hustle her way in New York City working night jobs so she could audition during the day eventually landing her role on “Orange Is The New Black.”
“I went in there mad raw, like super raw,” Cruz told VICE about her audition for OITNB. “I, like, imitated one of my girlfriends from work: feisty Latina.”
Police brutality is a civil rights violation that has long affected the Black community as well as other minority groups. While the issue has been highlighted extensively by these communities it seems that it’s only been very recently that the general public has developed concern over the issue. This is despite the fact that in so many ways police brutality has not only deeply harmed communities but also sparked major political and social movements such as the civil rights movement of the 1960s and anti-war demonstrations. So much so in fact, the United States has developed an ill-famed reputation for cases of police brutality. Particularly when it comes to the police’s mistreatments and murders of minors like Nolan Davis, Cameron Tillman, and Aiyana Stanley-Jones.
Over the weekend, an incident in Rochester, New York brought attention to the issue once again after body camera showed officers handcuffing and pepper-spraying a 9-year-old girl.
The incident which took place last Friday showed officers brutally restraining a little girl after responding to a call for “family trouble.”
The Rochester Police Department in New York released body camera footage Sunday showing officers handcuffing and pepper-spraying a 9-year-old girl while responding to a call for “family trouble.”
In two disturbingvideos, the little girl can be screaming for her father as officers attempt to restrain her. “You’re acting like a child,” a male officer yells at her in the video. “I am a child,” she screams in reply.
“I’m gonna pepper-spray you, and I don’t want to,” a woman officer warns the girl while attempting to put her feet inside of the police car.
“This is your last chance. Otherwise pepper spray is going in your eyeballs,” the officer adds.
The girl begged the officers not to spray her before they did.
Once pepper-sprayed, she cried, “It went in my eyes, it went in my eyes.” The child and her family, nor any of the officers involved in the incident have yet to be identified.
“I’m not going to stand here and tell you that for a 9-year-old to have to be pepper-sprayed is OK,” Police Chief Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan of Rochester said at a press conference Sunday. “It’s not. I don’t see that is who we are as a department.”
This incident isn’t the first for the Rochester Police.
The police department’s top officials resigned last September after protests broke out over the death of Daniel Prude, a Black man who died of asphyxiation after Rochester officers put a hood over his head. Prude’s face had been pinned to the ground by police.
Speaking about the incident Rochester’s Mayor Lovely Warren said that the pepper spray incident was “not something any of us should want to justify.”
Warren said watching the video of the young girl reminded her of her own daughter. “I have a 10-year-old daughter. So she’s a child. She’s a baby,” Warren explained. “And I can tell you that this video, as a mother, is not anything that you want to see. I saw my baby’s face in her face.”
According to Warren, she has asked for the police chief to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation in relation to the incident. She also noted that she welcomed a review from the police accountability board.
The incident reportedly occurred after officers responding to a report of “family trouble” around 3:21 p.m last Friday. Police reported to the area and were alerted that the 9-year-old girl was “upset” and “suicidal” and had indicated that she “wanted to kill herself and that she wanted to kill her mom.”
Unless you live under a rock, you probably know that the movie biz is run by white folks. Yes, it sucks, but the good news is there are some truly kickass people of color out there paving the way for the rest of us.
It’s old news that Hollywood has a huge diversity problem (#Oscarsowhite, anybody?). Even beyond the Academy Awards, this year’s Cannes Film Festival left a LOT to be desired when it came to Latino representation.
But, thankfully, that is beginning to change and more and more directors claim their spot in the directors chair and we are so grateful for the representiaon they’re bringing younger audiences because representation matters.
Moreover, many Latin-American directors particularly are seeing success both with critics and at the box office with such movies as Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity and Alejandro González Iñárritu’s The Revenant dominating the box office while also taking home numerous awards. Here are some of our favorite directors and a few lesser-known ones that you should add to your watch lists.
Adrian Molina has a breadth of experience under his belt, particularly in animation. He’s worked at Pixar Animation Studios on Toy Story 3 and in other capacities on Monsters University, Ratatouille and The Good Dinosaur. But it’s perhaps his work on Coco, which he co-wrote and co-directed, that e all know best.
Since Coco’s debut in theaters in Mexico, it has become the country’s highest-grossing movie in cinematic history. In the U.S., Coco, whose voice talent includes actors Gael Garcia Bernal, Edward James Olmos and Benjamin Bratt, has been a champion at the box office, coming in No. 1 three weekends in a row and garnering major Oscar buzz.
Born and raised in San Francisco to Mexican immigrant parents, director Aurora Guerrero graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in Psychology and Chicano studies. She dabbled in shorts for several years before directing an episode of Ava DuVernay’s groundbreaking series Queen Sugar, continuing DuVernay’s promise to have every episode directed by a woman of color.
Guerrero is gearing up to direct a feature she’s writing entitled Los Valientes about a gay, undocumented immigrant who finds his life turned upside down after traveling to a conservative Pennsylvania town.
Though the Mexican director Alfonso Arau started out as an actor (some of his acting credits include The Wild Bunch, Three Amigos, and Romancing the Stone), he eventually transitioned to directing.
Arau’s two most well-known works are 1992’s Like Water for Chocolate and 1995’s A Walk in the Clouds. The former was based on the novel written by Arau’s then-wife Laura Esquivel, became the highest-grossing non-English-language film ever released in the United States at the time, and even got nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
Gloria Calderon Kellett
Perhaps one of her biggest credits is her work on One Day at a Time, which she created, wrote, executive produced, and even acted as co-show runner for the Netflix series.
Kellett grew up in Beaverton, Oregon, and San Diego, California, and earned her degree in Communications and Theater Arts from Marymount University. She’s not stepping into directing without some experience. She directed two shorts a few years ago, Mouthbreather and Blind, and an episode of the webseries Misery Loves Company in 2017. Earlier this year, Kellett announced she is developing a new TV show for CBS, History of Them.
Mexican-Guatemalan-American filmmaker Marvin Lemus got his start in digital production, working on viral videos and marketing campaigns, including those utilized in the film Dear White People. After dabbling in shorts Lemus transitioned to creating his first series. The result was a web series titled Gente-fied.
Along with his countrymen, Alfonso Cuarón has distinguished himself as one of the greatest directors of our time. Working in different genres, Cuarón has been both critically and commercially successful as well as becoming the first Latin American to win the Academy Award for Best Director.
Cuarón’s directorial debut was 1991’s Solo con tu pareja, but his first success came with his second film – A Little Princess which was nominated for two Oscars. Y tu mamá también was a massive hit and got nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.
Cuarón followed these achievements with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban which got two Oscar nominations and is still considered to be the best installment in the franchise. His latest films, Gravity and Roma, both received multiple award nominations winning seven and three Oscars respectively. For both films, Cuarón won the Best Director award just like Iñárritu did.
Guillermo del Toro
It’s no secret that Guillermo del Toro is close friends with the two other prominent Mexican directors working today (Alejandro González Iñárritu and Alfonso Cuarón) with the trio being collectively known as “The Three Amigos of Cinema”. And their acclaim and success stem from their immense talent and hard work.
Del Toro has directed big-budget movies like Blade II and Hellboy (for which he also directed a sequel later on) before directing critically-acclaimed Pan’s Labyrinth which went on to be nominated for multiple awards. del Toro also directed Pacific Rim, Crimson Peak, and the Academy Award-winning The Shape of Water.
Alejandro González Iñárritu
Undoubtedly, Alejandro González Iñárritu is among the most successful directors working today – not just in his own country but internationally. Moreover, this worldwide success is probably tied to the fact that Iñárritu loves telling international stories and his films always have diverse casts.
Iñárritu’s directorial debut was 2000’s Amores perros which was the first installment in his Trilogy of Death and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. The two films that followed were also a part of the trilogy: 21 Grams which was nominated for two Oscars and Babel which won the Best Director at the Cannes Film Festival, won the Golden Globe Award for Best Drama, and got seven Oscar nominations.
But the most successful works of Iñárritu are definitely his two latest films: Birdman which won four Oscars and The Revenant which won three Oscars. In both cases, Iñárritu took home the Best Director award.