Guest column by Gianna Gravalese, sophomore news and documentary major
On the first day of my introduction to visual storytelling class this semester in the Dodge College of Film and Media Arts, I was placed in an assigned group of three.
Our first project assignment was to pick someone interesting to interview, so I suggested my friend who also goes to Chapman and is a makeup artist. I explained that, along with her beauty talents, she has an interesting story about being transgender.
One classmate seemed uneasy and asked to choose someone else. I asked why, and he explained that he didn’t like, “the whole transgender thing.” I didn’t know what to say. I felt a sense of anger and rage coming over me, so deep down that I wanted to scream and yell at him. Instead, I quickly closed my laptop and told him that he could figure the project out on his own.
“Your ability to be accepting, open-minded, and willing to work with anyone is what will lead you to success.”
I’ve always read about situations like this on social media, but never experienced them myself. I couldn’t believe that this happened at Chapman, which is known for being a place that welcomes anyone regardless of gender, ethnicity, religion or belief. When I first toured the university, one of the things that stood out to me was the, “I am Chapman” campaign, in which students embrace what makes them unique.
As a film school, Dodge should be filled with students who aim to work toward eliminating all types of discrimination from the film industry, because it’s a prominent issue in Hollywood that needs to be resolved. This man is the only person I’ve met in my year and a half on campus that didn’t match these qualities of a Chapman student. Most students on campus have done a great job of embracing their differences and coming together, by joining clubs or participating in movements that emphasize that it’s OK to be who you are.
In reality, he’s not the only person in the Chapman community like this. It’s not Chapman itself that creates an exclusive environment – it’s certain students who fail to realize and accept the differences that make us unique. There are more values and beliefs than just the ones we learn growing up. We aren’t obligated to change other people’s ways of thinking, but we must be willing to accept and understand them to our best ability.
In class, before my classmate made that comment, we had just finished watching a documentary called “Last Men in Aleppo,” in which filmmakers follow a rescue group in Aleppo amid the Syrian civil war. The filmmakers put their lives at risk and created an emotional, captivating, informative film. In the film industry, you may be thrown into an uncomfortable situation, but your job is to take that situation, whatever it may be, and turn it into something great.
My point here isn’t to speak badly about my classmate, because I understand that everyone has their own opinions. We all believe certain things, we were all raised differently, we’re all different – and that’s OK. A word of advice to my peer: Your ability to be accepting, open-minded and willing to work with anyone under any circumstance is what will lead you to success in the film industry. Good luck.