On Monday, February 3, I had my last first day of school at Chapman… and I missed my first class. Instead, I was on a Skype call that changed my life.

Oscar producers, Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, interviewed me from their Beverly Hills office. Along with asking me about my dreams of the Oscars, they told me I would live out my dream in a month’s time.

Last November, I came across a video on the Ellen DeGeneres show, where Channing Tatum announced a contest called “Team Oscar.” The prompt: any U.S. college student was eligible to submit a short video answering the question: “What do you want to contribute to the future of film?” The prize: presenting awards at this year’s Oscars ceremony.

Nathan’s story has caught the attention of all of us at Chapman, and the entire nation through his appearance on the Ellen show.  To read more about his experience, check out the press release issued by the awarding committee, and to find out more about Nathan’s busy student life, juggling personal and professional responsibilities, read his profile on the Happenings blog.  -JP

My Movie, My Message 

I have been working on my senior thesis documentary film since the beginning of the school year, so I had an answer to the prompt before I knew how I would translate it to a short. My senior thesis is an essayistic documentary looking at Asians in the American entertainment industry – both their misrepresentation in media and also the struggle to be successful. This is a very personal film for me because it stems from what I’ve struggled with for the majority of my life.

Growing up as an adopted child from Korea, with Irish-Italian and Austrian-Hungarian-Argentinian parents, I always stood out in a crowd. In my video, I reveal it was hard to find people in media who I could relate to; people that also looked like me. As I grow as a filmmaker, I want to create film and television “heroes” that represent a variety of backgrounds, so every child can see someone like them on screen.

Thanks to the help of my friends at Chapman – including some of my Orientation students from being an OA for the past three years – and my sister, I was able to film the video quickly during finals week last fall and spent the snowy winter break at home in Chicago editing it. I posted it casually on social media in January to share it with friends and family, but it spiked in views a few days ago after the announcement.

Praise, popularity, and paying it forward 

Of course, I had to keep the announcement secret until Channing Tatum announced the winners officially on the Ellen DeGeneres Show that Thursday. But on February 6, I felt more popular than I did on any of my previous birthdays.

I woke up to messages with links to different websites like the Hollywood Reporter and Deadline with my name on them. My Chapman Family watched my face on Ellen, and my closest friends threw me a party in their apartment. I received an overwhelming amount of calls, texts, Facebook messages and tweets that were both humbling and kind… all in response to a my short film and winnings. I was suddenly receiving a lot of attention, but I’m hopeful the message of my short transcends the social media interest.

In closing, I wanted to share my appreciation with anyone who has helped share my entry and supported my message. I am not used to all of the overwhelming kindness and I really hope I can pay it forward in the future. Even though I get to live my dream at this year’s Academy Awards, I hope that the recognition of my video will spark a larger conversation and a movement of change in the right direction to bring more diversity to the screen.