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Rising Stars: Meet Katherine Mendez

Today we’d like to introduce you to Katherine Mendez.

Katherine, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
I was born and raised in San Diego, California. Didn’t move to Los Angeles until I was 15. The reasons weren’t because I was pursuing acting or anything creative but because my mother moved out here. I played the trumpet at the church that was located in the Valley, so when my mom moved out here, I had to take the train every weekend. I would make it out here to see her, my sister, and to be in the church’s worship team. My dad definitely thought I was crazy but hey, everything happens for a reason and the way it does. For many years I was devoting my time to music but I have always loved films and learning about how they’re made. My dad and I bonded over movies and going to the theatre. We watched it all! My favorite movie is Jurassic Park because it’s the first film that really took me from reality and allowed me to suspend my disbelief. I thought this is so cool! I never thought I could pursue filmmaking because my dad always reminded me to find a career that will make you money so I won’t struggle like he did. So of course, a daughter from an immigrant sought out a career that did just that. A couple of years into college I realized, I want to make movies. I changed course and graduated with my bachelor’s in digital cinema and video production. Due to my schooling for filmmaking, I learned that I love to direct and write, so now I do just that.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
Como me gustaria que asi fuera – oh how I would have loved for it to be that way, a smooth road. The first challenge was to acknowledge that it’s okay for me to pursue what makes me happy. Regardless of what my parents wanted for me. You see, I struggled with guilt because my parents immigrated here from Guatemala to have a better life and to give my sister and I everything they couldn’t have. So, when I said to them that I was pursuing filmmaking it was difficult for them to understand and accept. After graduating with my bachelor’s in 2015, I was sent off into the real world. Boy is the world scary and mean. I couldn’t get a job in anything creative so I ended up working with kids. I absolutely love kids, so I wasn’t too upset at where I was. I taught kids film. We made cute shorts and music videos. They reminded me to never stop being a kid and to never lose my imagination.

A couple of years later, I got opportunities to direct music videos. I am extremely blessed because my fiancé is one talented music producer/artist who believes in me and is my number one advocate. It is through him and his relationships with his artist that he got me in there and sent them to me. He always introduced me as Katherine the director. Little by little, I started to get opportunities to direct music videos for his clients.

Due to being a beginner, it was a challenge gaining people’s trust and belief in me. Constant push back on my ability as a director. There were times I told myself maybe I shouldn’t pursue this after all. But I kept going and still continue to go because it makes me happy. I’ve come to a place in my life where I truly believe in my talent and know that I can make it far. Plus, we need more Latinx female directors. I hope to represent for my beautiful people and to be a beacon of hope.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I am a writer and director. In this season, I specialize in directing music videos. I’ve had the honor of directing music videos for different genres of music. I’ve done videos for hip hop, pop, r&b, indie and rap music. I am most proud of the growth. Remembering when I first started off, I would get asked to share my portfolio and I had nothing to share but my word and passion. Now, my portfolio is filled with so many different videos and visuals that I am proud of. There’s a music video I directed where there was dancing involved, it turned out so cool. Another music video I got to directed I came up with an animation concept that challenged me but showed me I can be versatile. Some music videos I got to shoot and direct, that’s always a challenge but turn out to be my favorites. All this to say I have proven to myself that I can create and execute but I also want to mention that nothing is possible without the help of the teams I’ve had a privilege to work with. Thank you to my editors, producers, make-up artists, wardrobe, gaffers, cinematographers, assistant directors, producer’s assistance, bts photographer and videographer. Filmmaking is all about the teamwork.

What sets me apart from others? Well, I am a short Latina who has a big imagination and ideas. When I work with the artist, team, employer(s) I make sure they feel heard, seen, respected, stress-free, and most of all have fun!

Before we go, is there anything else you can share with us?
My Fiancé and I have started our own business called Neon Tears Collective. He’s a music producer/artist, videographer, and editor and I am a writer, producer, and director who can work together and create some amazing stuff. An artist gets taken care of on both the audio and the visual side of things all in one place. It’s pretty awesome that we can both come together with our talents and work on projects while also pursuing other things on our own. My goal is to direct feature films and tv shows.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Joel Woods Katherine Zea Merissa Shaban

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