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Mexican American Filmmaker Isabel Castro Takes the Youth Questionnaire

15 Sep 2022

“I spent years covering immigration for media outlets, including the New York Times and The Marshall Project,” said filmmaker Isabel Castro in an interview about Mija, the Mexican American director/producer’s feature-length documentary debut.”

“While I'm proud of that work, I also found myself frustrated by the limitations of those formats. I was longing to convey the incredibly complex dynamics of immigrant families and all the emotions they navigate, including guilt, resentment, and anger. So, I turned to filmmaking.”

Mija, a Disney Original Documentary, follows Doris Muñoz and Jacks Haupt, both daughters of Mexican immigrants, who are pursuing careers in music, balancing reaching for their dreams with providing for their families—with the added pressure of knowing that their family reunification, and opportunity for green cards, depends on their success.

“As a teenager, I felt like there was a shortage of stories about what it meant to come of age as an immigrant or as the child of immigrants in the United States,” says Castro. “I wanted to tell the kind of story I craved myself, as a Mexican immigrant when I was figuring out my identity, family, and community.”

Castro, a four-time Emmy-nominated filmmaker whose work fuses art and journalism, responds to the Youth Questionnaire below. Watch Mija on Disney+ on September 16.


Question 04: What is your personal goal for this year, month, or day?
I’ve spent the last decade of my life just constantly in pursuit of success and of validation within my profession. I’ve always wanted to be a storyteller, and it’s so exciting to me now to be able to do that. But along the way, I think I lost a part of understanding myself, and my personal life, and my goal for the next day, week, month, year is to start to reclaim a sense of what I want outside of work. I love work; my biggest love in life is work and making documentaries, but I am curious to see what will happen when I make space for something else.

Question 08: What does pride mean to you?
For me, pride means making your internal dreams and ambitions an external reality; manifesting what’s in your head, what’s in your dreams. When you think about the way you want your life to look and you’re able to make that happen... I really feel a deep sense of pride in those moments. The other definition of pride for me is really familial; I think that your family is who knows you best, who understands you best, sometimes, or at last in my case. For me, being able to become the person that I’ve always wanted to be, for my parents, I see pride from them when they see that in me.

Question 24: What does it mean to find yourself?
I’ve struggled with this question over the last decade or 15 years. In your 20s you try on so many different hats to see which one fits, and you make a lot of mistakes along the way. I think that it’s a constant—and I don't think it ever stops—this constant trying-on of different things to see if they align with your inner self, and that extends to so many different aspects of life; it extends to where you live or your partners or where you work. In the best case, you try on so many variations of that and I think that finding yourself means to go through the process of trying out these things, making mistakes, then hopefully eventually landing on things that start to fit right, hats that starts to fit right, and comfort in the decisions you’re making and the life you’re living.

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