Latine Students

Latine Students of Dodge: Creating Community in Hollywood

Chapman University’s Latine film students are on a mission to make waves in Hollywood by laying a new foundation for community and representation.

Elle Perfecto (MFA ’23) and Carlos Carlos Jr. (MFA ’24) founded Latine Students of Dodge to provide future Latine filmmakers with resources to empower their success in the film and media arts industries.

Perfecto described the club’s presence as something that was missing, but very much needed, on campus.

“The mission is to empower Latine students at Dodge. We do that by providing a place where we can socialize, offering casting resources, opportunities to network with industry professionals and career opportunities,” she said.

“By nature, Latinos are diverse. We want to lean into the differences, learn different ideas and carve our own space. We want to create more representation in the film industry,” Carlos added.

Last spring, the club welcomed Dodge alumnus Isaac Rosales as a guest speaker. Rosales shared his story and his professional success as an employee of Meta. Afterward, members had an opportunity to chat with him.

With some members, such as Carlos, being graduate students, there is an opportunity for mentorship and guidance within the club. Students are able to learn from each other and offer advice or opinions on film projects.

Carlos, who is vice president of the club, is a film production major with roots in Mexico and Texas. Like most Dodge students, he came to southern California for industry opportunities. Hollywood, however, is still struggling to be more inclusive of Latine creators. 

According to the Latino Donor Collaborative, a nonprofit organization that researches the Latin American community in the U.S., as of 2023 there are only 2.6 percent Latin leads on television, 1.4 percent showrunners and 1.5 percent Latin directors, despite Latin Americans making up 20 percent of the population. 

Victor Adame ’23, one of the club’s members, shared the importance of familiarity and representation in various spaces. 

“I’m from Riverside, a very ethnically diverse area. Upon leaving my bubble I found that I was no longer surrounded by my people. Even though we aren’t a monolith, we share aspects of our identity with each other in this club,” Adame said.

“We’ve had conversations about Latine content that would be very different if we were discussing with people who don’t share aspects of our identity,” he continued. “Having a space for that is really rewarding and something I took for granted.”

Carlos added that being able to speak freely in languages that allow members to connect holds a lot of value. When it comes to the importance of culture and shared experiences, he said, “It’s simple, but I can speak my language a little more frequently with some members. Not all Latinos speak the same language, so we created an environment where students can find refuge and might meet someone who speaks Portuguese, Spanish, etc. The subtle way that impacts my relationship with the group is my favorite part of being here,”

Latine Students of Dodge will continue to provide a collaborative space for students to help each other with projects, have important discussions about Latine content and access resources for internships and networking opportunities, while making connections.

Looking forward to expanding club membership this fall, Carlos said, “I want to get to know them, what their dreams are and how we can contribute to them.”

To join the club officially, students must attend three meetings per semester. Check Chapman’s events page for club meetings and events.

Jennifer Winfield