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Meet Rayana Chumthong

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rayana Chumthong.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Rayana. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I’m of Thai descent, born to immigrant parents and originally hailing from the East Coast. My career has been a rollercoaster ride with an accelerated advancement in the past two years. Before moving to Los Angeles, I worked for tech start-up companies in New York City, helping to grow teams and increasing awareness of diversity and inclusivity hiring within the company. While I enjoyed the altruistic nature of my work and advocating for change in a male-dominated industry, I felt disconnected to my sense of purpose and wanted to follow my instincts down a career path that involved creating and collaborating with others. It was then that I decided to pivot into a career change when I rediscovered my longtime passion for photography and story-telling. I decided to move to Los Angeles shortly after to pursue a career in the film industry.

I was incredibly lucky that my first job was that of a unit still photographer on my first big film production, a reality TV game show. As I was shooting behind-the-scenes stills on film sets for a few years, I was unraveling my inner desires to realize I wanted to become a cinematographer. Once I knew my purpose, the rest kind of fell into place. After working as a camera trainee on my first independent feature film in 2018, I quickly moved up the camera department ranks from second camera assistant, to focus puller then camera operator on projects ranging from narrative feature films, short films, music videos and commercials. One of the biggest highlights of my career-to-date was also being accepted into American Film Institute’s Cinematography Intensive for Women (AFI CIW); a tuition-free program with rigorous cinematography training by leading DP’s and educators such as Polly Morgan, ASC, BSC, Natasha Braier, ASC, and Stephen Lighthill, ASC. Not only did I finish that program with a strong and enhanced foundation of technical knowledge, but I was also instilled with a deep sense of confidence and a support group that I would need to tackle a big year of cinematography work in 2019.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It certainly has not! There are moments in my life where I am quick to be overwhelmed by the fear of failing and disappointing others. It’s still a work in progress to step into my power and genuinely believe that I am capable of the work that I’m doing. In the last year, I’ve thought about turning down many jobs because I was paralyzed with fear that I couldn’t do it. If I’ve learned anything – I’ve proved to myself that I knew more than I thought I did and it wouldn’t have led to where I am now. In struggling with the fear of failure, I’ve unlocked the power of pursuit within myself.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
It depends – success can range from a small win to a major milestone accomplishment. In a way, success can be contradicting for me because the idea of it inherently drives me to chase ambitious goals, yet, I don’t want it to get in the way of who I am and how I define myself. I’ve seen friends beat themselves up because they let success define who they are and sometimes we have to stop and think that where we want to go isn’t always on a linear path. Acknowledging each victory we accomplish, no matter the size, are positive reminders that we’re constantly evolving into better versions of ourselves, which feels like a good benchmark of success to me.

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Image Credit:
BTS shot: Emma Juncosa

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