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Film student steps outside comfort zone to find success

May 2, 2018

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2018 commencement

Marylyn Aguilar. Photo by Reeb Menjivar

Everyone thought Marylyn Aguilar would pursue a career in singing, but it took an essay and some tears for her to find her own path.

“Growing up, I focused my attention on academics and music classes, specifically singing,” said Aguilar, a film and media production major graduating from Arizona State University. “The people in my life assumed I would go on to college to study teaching or vocal performance. It was expected of me. But I knew better and understood I wanted to do something different with my life.”

Her junior year at Maryvale High School, she received an assignment to write an essay on her future and her career goals.

“Attempting to write the essay, I began to cry,” she said. “At that moment, I was anxious. I had no desire to pursue my other interests as careers, but was clueless as to what path to follow.”

Francis Ford Coppola’s film “The Outsiders” played in the background. It wasn’t a film Aguilar particularly liked, but it changed her life.

“It made me realize I wanted to develop stories in that medium,” she said. “With film, I was able to not only conjoin all my interests, but also explore a creative outlet that was outside of my comfort zone.”

Question: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you, that changed your perspective?

Answer: During my time at ASU, I realized that I'm more of a kinesthetic learner than a visual one. In film school, most of my learning came from hands-on practice. I didn't feel comfortable directing, editing, writing a script or even touching a camera until I did it. I am grateful I learned this about myself sooner than later, it's made me into a better filmmaker in the long run. Many of the stories I write are experiences I witnessed or experienced myself. I always tell myself, "Try it and then execute it."

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I chose to attend ASU because it was close to home, but it also has a well-established film program.  

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: Don't be afraid to try new things and keep your mind open. Seize every opportunity and run with it. College can be beautiful, so talk to everyone and make connections. 

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life? 

A: My favorite spot on campus was, surprisingly, Hayden Library. I would pack snacks, buy coffee and persuade a bunch of friends to reserve a room to study in for hours. I've had the greatest conversations and wrote my best papers there. I have a special place in my heart for Hayden Library – it’s gotten me through some rough nights. 

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: After I graduate from ASU, I will be attending the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in downtown Los Angeles. I begin school in the fall with my younger sister. I will continue studying film in the school's Digital Cinema program. I am genuinely excited to begin the next chapter in my life. More than ever, I feel I am in a position to confidently embark on my career without hesitation. 

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: It takes so much more than $40 million to solve any problem on Earth, however, if I had the money, I would invest in education in Guatemala and Honduras. It would be a dream to aid my family's homelands in that way. The youth (specifically females) are the primary victims in these struggling countries. They die every day. Young people should not have to give up their chance to learn, let alone lose their lives because of the actions of corrupt governments. I wish to one day actually make an impact with my career.  

School and Film, Dance and Theatre, Herberger Institute
480-727-4433
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samccar5@asu.edu