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Ayla Cruz, The Next Quentin Tarantino

By Keeley Britt

Two words could be used to describe Ayla Cruz: “creative” and “ambitious.”

As Ayla would listen to music growing up, she would think, “How could I turn this into a movie scene?” And so, her interest in becoming a movie director grew from there.

“I have always been enthralled with art and media,” she said. The 17-year-old from San Jose, California, has grown up with a love of art, writing, and movies that support her dream of becoming a movie director.

“I love historical movies,” Ayla said, while listing adjectives that she would want in her own movie production: historical, funny, violent, drama. She said that these are similar to the types of movies that her role model, Quentin Tarantino, directs.

“I just love his style, and the stylistic choices he does,” Ayla explained.

Ayla resides in Cherokee, North Carolina and attends Cherokee High School. She believes that diversity is very important, and her own diversity is testament to that. “One thing that really does affect me every day is the lack of me seeing other people like me out there, because I’m half Native American and half Mexican, and so I have two very different worlds,” she said.

Growing up in some difficult situations throughout her life, Ayla has kept a strong and intelligent demeanor with a determined attitude. “My family life hasn’t always been easy,” she said. “The community around me has huge drug and sexual violence problems. Those are the things people don’t see about me from the outside.”

With a heart to help her community, Ayla recently participated in a program that aimed to help those with mental health problems.

She said: “I worked a while with a program called (Ana-ga-li-sgi) where they posted YouTube videos about mental health…I did a lot of the script writing and research, and I feel like that the program really helped people with risks of suicide.”

Leading into her freshman year of college, Ayla aspires to travel on her own and to be adventurous.

“My summer after my senior year I would really love to travel,” she said. “That’s one of my biggest things. I really want to see the world, and be independent for a little bit.”