Self-taught film writer, director and producer speaks at Cal State San Bernardino
Office of Strategic Communication
Carmen Marron, a self-taught film writer, director and producer, presented “Fighting Negative Stereotypes” as part of the Conversations on Diversity series at Cal State San Bernardino on Oct. 9.
Marron, the daughter of Mexican immigrants and one of 10 children, was a street dancer growing up in inner-city Chicago, which she says “fed her soul” and helped her stay out of trouble. She wove her personal experiences into her debut hip-hop indie feature “Go for It!” (2011), a movie that was made from “tremendous passion and miracles.”
Marron was working as a guidance counselor in a low-income neighborhood for high-risk elementary school children in South Phoenix when something in her gut told her she needed to reach out to more kids. As a youth growing up in a troubled, low-income area as well, she saw herself in many of the students she worked with, and wanted to share stories like theirs and provide more role models for them on screen.
“The most effective way to fight a stereotype is first to change it within yourself,” she said. “I had to learn that lesson myself.”
After checking out a book about screenplay writing, Marron created her own script. She then followed her intuition and moved to Los Angeles with nothing but her “dog, laptop and trunk of clothes.” When presenting her screenplay to companies in Hollywood, Marron said she was “laughed at” for two whole years and almost gave up on her dream.
“Part of life is failing,” she said. “You cannot succeed without failing because you have to grow, and the only way you can grow is by failing.”
Despite having no formal training in the entertainment industry, Marron decided to take matters in to her own hands, and managed to write, produce and direct the film all on her own. It took Marron five years to save enough money to make the movie, and a total of seven years for it to be completed. “Go for It!” eventually sold out at festivals across the country, won four awards, and was bought and distributed by Lionsgate in theaters throughout the U.S.
Starring Aimee Garcia (“Dexter”) and Gina Rodriguez (“Jane the Virgin”), the movie is about a student who must decide between following her dreams as a dancer or to conform to the wishes of her family. The film ultimately explores a universal theme for young adults: “Who am I?” and “What do I want to do with my life?”
During her presentation, Marron told the audience to focus on three points in life: one, always ask yourself what your intention is; two, always follow your gut instinct; and three, always follow an inspirational phrase that you have read or have been told – Emily Dickinson’s quote, “The soul selects her own society,” is a line that motivated, and continues to motivate, Marron.
With the success of her first film, Marron also wrote, produced and directed her second film, “Endgame” (2015), starring Rico Rodriguez from the popular show “Modern Family.” The film, about a young boy who tries to help his school’s chess team to reach the Texas state finals, was released theatrically by AMC and premiered on HBO. Marron’s next movie, a women-empowering comedy called “Fairy Badmother” is currently in pre-production.
Marron credits much of her success to her education, something that her father strongly encouraged her to pursue while growing up.
“The only reason that I am where I am, and where I am going, is because of my education,” said Marron, who earned her bachelor’s in business and master’s in educational psychology. “I have a lot of respect for all of you for being here because you are on your way. Your education – no one can take that away from you. And that is an unlimited tool for your life – for whatever you want to do, for whatever you want to be.”
CSUSB’s University Diversity Committee began its Conversations on Diversity series in spring 2005 and strives to bring three renowned speakers to campus on a specific topic of diversity each fall, winter and spring quarter. Topics include, but are not limited to, race, ethnicity, religion, women’s issues, gender and sexual orientation.
For more information on Cal State San Bernardino, contact the university’s Office of Strategic Communication at (909) 537-5007 and visit inside.csusb.edu.