Whittier Alum Shines in Oscar-Nominated 'American Fiction

Emily Baeza, Whittier College alum, played a pivotal behind-the-scenes role in the Oscar-nominated "American Fiction," reflecting on how her education shaped her career

Whittier Alum Shines in Oscar-Nominated 'American Fiction
  1. Introduction

    • Background on Emily Baeza and her journey from Whittier College to the film industry.
    • Overview of "American Fiction" and its Oscar nominations.
  2. Early Influences and College Years

    • Baeza's inspiration from Montebello High School to pursue higher education.
    • Whittier College's impact on her career path, focusing on the Whittier Scholars Program.
  3. Career Development Post-College

    • Transition from nonprofit work at City Year to pursuing a master’s in civic media.
    • How these experiences contributed to her role in the film industry.
  4. Behind the Scenes of "American Fiction"

    • The collaborative nature of film production and Baeza's role as second assistant director.
    • Emphasis on diversity and representation in the film.
  5. Challenges and Highlights of Filmmaking

    • The logistical challenges of filmmaking and Baeza’s responsibilities on set.
    • Memorable moments and the significance of working with a talented cast and crew.
  6. Oscar Nominations and Industry Recognition

    • The reaction to "American Fiction's" Oscar nominations.
    • The importance of recognition in the film industry.
  7. Advice for Aspiring Filmmakers

    • Baeza's guidance for those interested in a film career or considering a career change.
  8. Conclusion

    • Reflections on the role of passion and talent in creating meaningful art.

Whittier Alum Shines in Oscar-Nominated 'American Fiction'


Emily Baeza, a proud Whittier College alumna, has significantly contributed to the film "American Fiction," which received five Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture. Baeza's journey from the halls of Whittier College to the film sets of Hollywood showcases the profound impact of her education on her career.

Early Influences and College Years

Encouraged by her high school teacher, Baeza chose Whittier College for its intimate class sizes and the unique Whittier Scholars Program. Here, she designed a degree that spanned journalism, creative writing, and environmental science, which laid the groundwork for her future in media and film.

Career Development Post-College

Baeza's path took her from working at the educational nonprofit City Year to earning a master's in civic media at Emerson College. These experiences honed her skills in collaboration and management, essential for her eventual role in the film industry.

Behind the Scenes of "American Fiction"

As the second assistant director on "American Fiction," Baeza's responsibilities were crucial for the daily operations on set. She emphasized the importance of diversity and representation, aligning with the film's commitment to showcasing varied voices.

Challenges and Highlights of Filmmaking

Baeza navigated the complexities of film production, from scheduling to managing various departments. Working closely with the cast, including Oscar nominees, and experiencing the unity of a dedicated team were among her most cherished moments.

Oscar Nominations and Industry Recognition

The Oscar nominations for "American Fiction" were a moment of pride for Baeza and her colleagues, reaffirming the value of their hard work and the film's message. Such recognition highlights the enduring appeal of meaningful storytelling in cinema.

Advice for Aspiring Filmmakers

For those looking to enter the film industry or considering a career change, Baeza advises setting clear goals and pursuing them with confidence. Her journey exemplifies the power of determination and the significance of community support in achieving success.


Emily Baeza's story is a testament to the impact of education, perseverance, and collaboration in achieving artistic excellence. As "American Fiction" garners acclaim, it serves as a reminder of the vital role behind-the-scenes professionals play in bringing compelling narratives to life.

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