The New Americans Project: Leila Yavari

As I followed Professor Alexander’s New Americans Project I was pleased to see many familiar faces and to gain some insight on their personal stories. One in particular is someone who I have grown close with over the past year my friend, Leila Yavari. With us both being film majors Leila and I have had many encounters in various film classes in the past. It wasn’t until Spring 2016 in our Documentary Filmmaking class that we became close. Whether it’s trips to Cinnaholic (our favorite vegan cinnamon rolls) or adventures filming for class we always have a genuinely great time.

From the very beginning of our filmmaking classes Leila expressed a desire to give people like her a voice and that’s how we really connected. Many have asked us why do we only want to use Black people or Persians in our individual films and our response is who else is using them or writing for them. We love to give people like ourselves a voice in America. Leila and I have had numerous conversations about her ethnicity and issues behind it. There is a lot of judgement from Americans as well as people in her culture. Her upcoming film for our Narrative filmmaking class delves into the issue of sexualizing “exotic/ambiguous looking” women. There’s an issue in America where many men feel like they only want to date a girl because she’s exotic or because “they’ve always wanted to date a Persian girl.” I wish I could present a more elaborate and defined written version of her film since it is written so eloquently and full of passion. Hopefully she will share it on social media for everyone to see. In all I am so happy to have met Leila and learn more about her and her culture. She is not only an amazing filmmaker and writer but also has a pure and kind heart.

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