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Meet Lorena Lourenço

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lorena Lourenço.

Lorena, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and from a young age fell in love with film and TV. It was when I watched films that moved me to my core, like City of God and American Beauty, that I knew I had to work in the film industry. There is nowhere better to do that than Hollywood, so I moved to Los Angeles to study Film at USC.

I had the most wonderful (and expensive) experience at USC and that was around the time that I started finding my voice; funny but maybe harsh, risky but with heart, and ridiculous but making serious sociopolitical commentary.

The longer I stuck around the more I realized that being in a new country I had to find a whole new me in the context this place. After all, I no longer belonged, I was a female Latina immigrant in a not so welcoming environment. The more I found myself in this new identity the more I realized that I am passionate about telling stories from marginalized perspectives that highlight cultural identity, the immigrant experience and female strength (though I barely work out, whoops).

As I really owned my voice, I was unafraid to call out the sexism, xenophobia, and racism we are faced with day to day, and yet also finding a way to laugh at it all, which makes it all the more bearable. It was in finding that unabashed immigrant feminist voice screaming from within that I wrote and directed the short film Joy and directed Yas Kween, Bad First Dates and Muy Gay Too Mexicano.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Not at all a smooth road. One of the greatest struggles I had was being diagnosed with endometriosis whilst applying for one of my visas, and working full time, which was a hurdle unlike any other. Doctors and people don’t know or understand the disease and like most female centric issues it is a condition that is ignored and neglected, making it all the harder to cope with and treat. Thankfully a conversation about it is finally starting to happen and I believe in it continuing to grow as a topic.

Speaking of hurdles, yet another one is not knowing whether your visa will go through and thus timing your life and work around these odd bureaucratic timelines (that might not always work out). No one wants to hire someone who might expire in a year or month, my “visa is too hard to handle” I’ve been told on more than one occasion. Yet, you find a way to make it work, you interview more than usual and talk to other people on visas, finding support in each other. What makes it all easier is finding your people in the large and expansive city that is Los Angeles, to be stereotypically LA, you need your “ride or dies.”

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I create content that moves people and often makes them laugh, by writing, directing, producing and editing it – usually not in all positions at once, for the sake of my sanity. I specialize in creating content that promotes the voices of us “others” in the margins of society, female centric narratives and immigrant stories. What truly makes the content I work in stand out is how unique it is, the voices it promotes are like no other out there.

One of the pieces of work I’m proudest of is the short film Joy screened and awarded at 14 festivals worldwide, showing the pain of being a woman, immigrant and Latina in the current zeitgeist. Next up would be the two webseries: Yas Kween, about a drag queen vigilante, and Bad First Dates, about the terrible dates women must endure. Finally, we are currently in post-production for the short I directed, called Muy Gay Too Mexicano, which tells the story of a man struggling with his personified Mexican and gay identities. It is written by a dear friend and 2019 Outfest screenwriting fellow, Jorge Molina.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
Going to Ipanema beach in Rio with family and/or friends. I have been to that beach almost monthly from a few months old until I was 19 (right when I moved to LA). Ipanema beach is the happiest place on earth to me and the first place I go to when I step off the airplane in Rio.

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Image Credit:

Alex King, Ross Knight, Abel Benitez, Katie Eleneke, Shaina Rose Woolley

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