“I Only See the Typical Stereotypes,” Meet Alex Sorto

Alex Sorto immigrated from Honduras when he was 16 years old and is now a dynamic entrepreneur, an incredible filmmaker, rapper, graphic artist, and his signature on his email says, “Future CEO.” With English as his second language, he found his way to BAYCAT through one of our programs at San Francisco International High School and has since inspired our own CEO Villy Wang to do a TED Talk. After directing award-winning music video ‘Hard Times,’ Alex began college at California State University, East Bay where he’s studying Multimedia, Marketing and Advertising full time. Yet despite his success, Alex says that when other people look at him, they won’t necessarily see him as a filmmaker or a music maker.

We’re always portrayed as the gang members, the drug dealers, the maids, the Spanish speakers who don’t know English,” says Alex. “On TV, we’re never the main actors. We aren’t portrayed as being successful.” So in the eyes of other people, Alex doesn’t feel seen for who he truly is or, the values he represents or the future he imagines for himself. “They never show a Latino who is a CEO, never.” Instead Alex sees the media industry profiting by villianizing his culture.

Like Angela, Alex carries the burden of misrepresentation by the media every day. He recalls how he went to a job interview and the first thing they asked was, “How good is your English?” Though he is bilingual, Alex wants the world to know that not all Latinos only speak Spanish.

Before BAYCAT, Alex wanted to be a musician. He remembers thinking, it doesn’t matter what I’ve been through, nobody cares about Alex. But then I came to BAYCAT and they said, it does matter, and people need to hear it, people need to know who you are. Without BAYCAT I wouldn’t be who I am today.” At BAYCAT he learned English, filmmaking, music production and most of all, that his own story matters.

Latino Success

“The media always make us feel like we aren’t worth being represented in a positive way. It’s sad, that we are always seen as the bad guys.”

Alex might attribute his success as a creative to BAYCAT, but BAYCAT owes our success just as much to young people like Alex. CEO Villy remembers, “We were talking and dreaming about doing a TED Talk, and he showed me his draft of what his would look like. Seeing his fearlessness to tell his story, he inspired me to pitch his story and then mine. I wouldn’t have been invited to do a TED Talk if it wasn’t for Alex.

Alex makes media to change the way people think. He is sick of the lack of diversity in media creation. He imagines a world where communities represent themselves in media. Only then, he says, will people see the reality of diverse communities from their own point of view, without stereotypes or bias. Alex’s simple solution: 1. Be the change you wish to see AND 2. Donate to BAYCAT

Sick of the Same Stories?

Your New Storytellers Are Here. Join Us!

Donate to support creative powerhouses and future CEOs like Alex Sorto!


The Child I Never Had

I don’t know about you, but I was an awkward 13-year old. Like many young teenagers, I was dealing with a changing body, growing out my bangs, trying to fit into a new high school and finding my unique place in the world. Mom made enough money to move us from the housing projects on the Lower East Side to a house in Queens. That opened up a world of possibilities  for my future, but I was the shy and quiet kid, afraid that I was too stupid, naive, or too Chinese to ever make it.  I didn’t feel like I belonged. My appearance, hand-made clothes and demeanor clearly showed that I wasn’t one of the “cool” kids. I always thought that these floundering experiences would help me be a better Mom some day when I raise my own kids.

Here I am now, watching BAYCAT turn 13-years old.

Is BAYCAT the child I never had?


villy wang

a shy, young Villy

As the Founder, and with my innate instinct to nurture, it certainly feels like it. I’ve watched BAYCAT stumble and flourish from a mere crazy idea in my head, to crawling through multiple start up phases, to becoming a full-fledged organization making an undeniable impact on the world. I’ve witnessed BAYCAT emerge from a confusing but curious childhood, to a brave adolescence, ready to face the troubles of the world.

Sometimes it’s been two steps forward and one step back, sometimes it’s given me gray hairs, but BAYCAT has weathered the storms.

I’m proud of what BAYCAT has become, that it still exists, and for everything it has accomplished as a teenager:

educating 4000+ young people

employing 200+ diverse creatives

creating 1000’s of stories

building capacity for 150+ nonprofits.

Not bad for a 13-year, huh?

As with every Mom, I worry daily about the long-term viability of my child in an often precarious world. Natural disasters, a divisive political climate, and daily news that centers around the very real racial and economic pain of our society makes me wonder what can I do to protect and prepare BAYCAT, to not just survive but thrive. Parents worry ourselves silly over things that are out of our control, but in the end all we can do is our best to provide enough nutrients and resources to have faith that our kids will be ok. No, better than just ok.

My expectations, like most parents, are high and may even seem lofty. I expect BAYCAT to keep growing, to build a strong corpus and to fulfill its purpose to make the world an even better place. A safer place, a more inclusive place, a more diverse, creative, loving and joyful place. To help quiet these negative fearful feelings for those who don’t feel they belong, and to pave pathways to success. To end racism, person by person, story by story. I struggle to make sure that there is enough sustenance, treasure and talent to help BAYCAT reach its full potential. I will continue to be there for BAYCAT, to have faith and to swallow my own fears of whether BAYCAT belongs.

Because we do, we all do.

And most of all, I’m grateful for the village of people who have adopted, co-parented, fed, provided for and helped to raise BAYCAT together with me. Thank YOUI share this birthday with you and I look forward to continuing this adventure together into BAYCAT’s adulthood!


Happy 13th Birthday, BAYCAT!

baycat's birthday

Ribbon-cutting ceremony at BAYCAT, 13 years ago

May you continue to enlarge your family, develop more jobs for diverse creative talent, create more stories about critical social justice issues, and change the 21st century workforce to bring greater racial and social equity to our society!




Carrying On The Message of Every 28 Hours

The live productions of Every 28 Hours have wrapped…but, the issues of racial justice and implicit bias are far from resolved. BAYCAT partnered with Berkeley Repertory Theatre and the American Conservatory Theatre to film three productions that take a hard look at why the #blacklivesmatter movement came to be and how the reasons for it are affecting people in our communities. 75 one-minute plays were created and performed by artists across the nation. The series was inspired by the widely circulated and contested statistic that every 28 hours a black person is killed in the US by a vigilante, security guard or police officer.

screen-shot-2016-11-15-at-10-48-23-amOne of the core principles of the show was that tickets remained free of charge to grant access to everyone who wanted to attend. All performances were followed by a Q & A with the cast. Because these performances were held in venues for mature audiences, and because the issue is so wide-scale, our cohort felt it was imperative to film the series so that it could reach as many eyes and ears as possible through the digital media BAYCAT is known for producing.

The pieces are meant to be watched in order and include, Life by Numbers, When the Bullets Strike, and Unknown Thousands. Together, we can give witness, voice and healing to the injustices in our nation.

BAYCAT Academy|Film or Graphic Arts & Animation Teaching Assistants


Bayview-Hunters Point Center for Arts and Technology (BAYCAT) is a nonprofit social enterprise that educates, empowers and employs young people from historically underserved Bay Area communities.


BAYCAT is seeking energetic, creative and resourceful Volunteer Teaching Assistants to join our education team!

  • Co–teach Media Classes for middle and high school students
  • Gain access to our state-of-the-art digital media facility
  • Hone your production skills through assisting a class of youth
  • Acquire teaching and youth development experience
  • Network with industry professionals


  • 1+ year of experience in media production (Premiere Pro, DSLR cameras, documentary filmmaking) OR 1+ year of experience in graphic arts (Adobe Photoshop, Adobe After Effects)
  • Interest in and/or experience with youth mentorship or teaching
  • Understanding of the BAYCAT mission
  • Ability to commit to a full semester of teaching Sept – Dec or Jan – May


  • This is a GREAT opportunity for current undergraduate students, recent college graduates and industry professionals seeking volunteer opportunities
  • Teaching assistants are supported by a Lead Instructor and program staff
  • Classes are held at the BAYCAT studio, located near Portrero Hill
  • This is an unpaid teaching position with significant professional development opportunities

Interested? Please send a brief cover letter, resume and work samples to our Academy Manager, Alessandra Carter, at: alessandracarter@baycat.org.


College Bound: Ramses Mosley Wise

Some people are lucky enough to find out what they’re passionate about long before the topic of college comes up. Ramses Mosley-Wise has had a love for film that grew into a love of filmmaking at the age of 12 years after movies helped him get through a difficult period in his life. Now 18, he now intends to pursue filmmaking as a career, and worked with fellow BAYCAT students to film the personal essay required by USC and UCLA to apply for their filmmaking programs.  

Ramses“College for me will be the right decision, and I feel like it will give me more tools I can use. I want to be a filmmaker, and I feel like it will help me be a great filmmaker.”

As for where he wants to work someday? “I’m not entirely sure. Maybe if there’s a position open at BAYCAT?” he says with a smile. “Right now I just want to see where [film] takes me.”

The free classes at BAYCAT always let our youth express themselves through art, but for Ramses working on Zoom In: Episode 34 – Is This Justice? last term was a deep experience that solidified his decision to make movies his full-time pursuit.

“Being able to work on something like Is This Justice? makes me feel that I have a say in life. It gives the youth aspect on big subjects like juvenile incarceration. Often time teenagers are seen as, ‘Oh, they’re on their phones. They don’t care.’ Zoom In helps me get my voice out there. We’re not all obnoxious cell phone zombies.”

For Ramses, and other BAYCAT youth, talking about the complex topic of juvenile justice and incarceration happens on and off screen. One of his most memorable interactions was with lawyer Mary Kelly, who came to speak with the advanced film students.

“I had this stereotype in my head that all lawyers see the law as fair and just. But she was cool,” he said. “We were talking about being judged, and I called out white people by mistake, but she said, ‘white people like me?’ She was understanding without judging and helped me see past the stereotype.”

With his strong work ethic, it’s hard to tell that Ramses came to BAYCAT a little later than most. He joined the program this past summer afterRamses is going to college this year. friend and fellow filmmaker Ginger Chen finally convinced him to try it.

“I regret not joining sooner. BAYCAT has been the best experience I could have hoped for. Access to equipment, friendship, it has let me open up the filmmaking side that I wanted to go explore.”

In his short time at BAYCAT, Ramses has come into his own as a filmmaker and joined the advanced class this term.

“I feel like I’ve taken on more responsibility as a director and editor last semester. The work for Is This Justice? felt more important. Not that the other work I did wasn’t important,” he amended. “I put in more passion.”

Although fired up about, Is This Justice?, and the upcoming Zoom In: Episode 35 – Educated Guess, everything comes back to his love of film, which he will follow all the way to Los Angeles. Or not.

“I take filmmaking very seriously. It’s helped me through a lot,” Ramses said. Although interested in moving to Southern California, he is leaning toward staying closer to home, and accepting an offer from Humboldt State University. “Plus, it’s affordable, and the college campus is gorgeous, [situated] between a beach and a forest.”

Although he will be leaving the program soon, Ramses hopes people continue to help keep BAYCAT’s programs free for youth like him. Why? “Because BAYCAT gives me love. And opportunities. A lot of organizations talk about how they empower youth, or give kids a give voice. BAYCAT actually does it. I could be laying in bed watching, ‘The Flash,’ but instead I’m making a film about superheroes in the community. It gives me purpose. Others should have that too.”

Come support Ramses and his fellow media producers at our next World Premiere on May 17 at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema.

BAYCAT Presented the Ellen Magnin Newman Award by SF Symphony

BAYCAT given Ellen Magnin Newman Award for Service to Community

Ellen Magnin Newman Award 2BAYCAT has been awarded the prestigious Ellen Magnin Newman Award by the San Francisco Symphony. This award is given to one San Francisco arts nonprofit each year in recognition of “significant contributions to community service and supporting their community in a meaningful way.” BAYCAT was recognized at the SF Symphony’s All San Francisco Concert last week at a VIP Reception attended by Mrs. Newman herself.

We were honored to have been nominated for the Ellen Magnin Newman Award, and the opportunity to speak about the work we do to educate and employ youth and young adults in the digital media arts. We must also give credit to fellow nominee Youth Speaks, who does great work inspiring youth through spoken word.

Since 1980, the San Francisco Symphony and Wells Fargo have partnered to put on the All San Francisco Concert, a performance for the community. This concert pays tribute to neighborhood and social service organizations from throughout the City, inviting them to Davies Symphony Hall at a discount. Since 2007, the concert has also recognized the work of Ellen Magnin Newman, a Symphony Board of Governor and founding member of the All San Francisco Committee, through the creation of the Ellen Magnin Newman Subscription Award.

Kids Touch the Future at Obscura Digital

Digital projections and touch screen technology dazzle BAYCAT youth during tour

How often to kids get to go to a real workplace that causes youth to compare it to something out of a Batman movie? The latest BAYCAT field trip took the youth to meet the people at Obscura Digital, tour their facility, and hear about they work they do. (They “provide life-size creative technology platforms for built environments, live events, and new ventures.” This basically means they do amazing digital projections, like the recent art installation projecting endangered animals on the the Empire State Building in New York City.)

IMG_8866During the community circle, where youth get to discuss the experience, kids threw out all kinds of answers.

“The pictures were flawless…”

“It looks like Wayne Enterprises…”

“They get to travel the world…”

The company has offices in San Francisco, New York, and Stockholm, with the SF branch being located just down the street in the Dogpatch neighborhood. The office space is just as impressive as the immersion experiencesIMG_8856 they create, featuring interactive walls, a pool table that can give balls the illusion of flames them in motion, and other neat tricks for the eye.

“I liked that it was interactive,” said Lucrezia Berry, age 14. “The touch screen was awesome.”

Although the tech is impressive, no one is above being a little star struck.

“I like that they work with celebrities,” said Ze’Vonte Hamilton, age 15, mentioning some work the company is doing for Jay Z.

This tour is a favorite among a summer filled with exposure to different paths the youth can  take in digital media.

“Sometimes when you think you’re doing someone a favor, it ends up they did you a favor instead. How energizing it was for our whole team to see our work through the eyes of smart and inquisitive BAYCAT kids!” said Kimber Sterling, Vice President of Client Services at Obscura Digital, who helped arrange the tour.

Zoom In: Episode 33 Tonight LIVE in Person or Online

See the Premiere of ZOOM IN: Ep. 33 Live & Online

Don’t forget – the World Premiere of “Zoom In: Episode 33 – Me Myself, and I” is TONIGHT! The event is taking place at Z Space, and online at https://baycat.org/baycatlive starting at 6:30pm.

You won’t want to miss a live musical performance by BAYCAT youth Angela King and Ze’Vonte Hamilton, plus the amazing short films, documentaries, and music that explore their free time activities and those of notables in the community: from managers at Pixar to our local Supervisor to Broke-Ass Stuart.

We hope to see you there!

New Event Info:

VENUE: @ Z Space – 450 Florida Street (btwn. 17th & Mariposa Streets) SF, 94110

WHEN: Thursday, August 6th, 2015

Doors Open @ 5:30 pm; Screening Begins Promptly @ 6:30 pm

BAYCAT Grad, Bella Goes to USC Film School

Young BAYCAT filmmaker Bella Vallero, 17, has always been influenced by media, and dreams of being like the people she sees on TV. Now it’s her turn to do the influencing as she prepares to step behind the camera next year as a freshman at the University of Southern California.

USC has the best film school in the country. She credits BAYCAT with helping get her there.

“When I found out I got in, I didn’t believe it. I thought it was a joke or a mistake. I kept telling my mom, “I can’t believe I got in” for the longest time… Everything still hasn’t hit me yet,” she said. “I got to apply to as many colleges for free because of our financial standing, so I applied to a lot. Because everything was free, I applied to USC just to make my mom happy,” she said.

It will be a major shift for the film student, which can be a little daunting at times.

“I’m both excited and scared _MG_8421for so many things. I’m kind of intimidated because a lot of the kids going there have been doing this for years, if not their entire lives. Some of their parents even got to work on major films that have been released within the past few years, so they’ve always been exposed to this kind of stuff. The money thing intimidates me a bit, too. Not the cost of schooling, but the amount of money the other kids have. I don’t know how I’ll be able to adjust or fit in with all the other film kids there, but I have to somehow, if USC thinks I have just as much potential as them.”

Despite some nerves, after her time at BAYCAT, Bella feels well prepared to take on USC.

“BAYCAT has taught me so much. Technically speaking, they’ve helped me work better in a group setting and construct good work ethic in a collaborative environment,” she said. But the best lessons go beyond filmmaking technique.

“[BAYCAT] really taught me the importance of a diverse community. BAYCAT is all about representation and guidance and helping kids achieve their goals, and I am all about that. They helped me realize my potential in an industry as competitive as film. They helped me realize the lack of representation in media. They helped me realize that instead of noticing what’s wrong and not doing anything about it, that I should be proactive in things that I want to change, and I feel I could do that through the work I create,” she said.

The lessons in film and diversity impacted by BAYCAT instructors, have had a deeper personal impact that the young filmmaker expected.

“[The teachers] have also been really helpful in aiding me on speaking out more and having more confidence in myself. Throughout this past year, I’ve learned that I work really well under pressure, and I’ve learned that I’m worth more than I think and that I shouldn’t doubt myself too often,” she said.

Armed with renewed confidence and desire to champion representation in media, there is no other career she would rather have.

“Film combines everything I love to do into one profession. I never wanted to work a regular 9 to 5 job in an office all day, and I just feel that film can offer me the pleasure of traveling, writing, producing, interacting, and creating while still doing things I find exciting. Not knowing what each day has to offer while working is one of the main things that I found most desirable about film. The variety and constant change involved in the film industry, I feel, fits well with the kind of person I am.”

As for her hopes for the future: “I would like to see myself living comfortably and exploring the world at the same time with a camera in hand. Other than that, I’m unsure of what I’ll actually be doing. Hopefully, I’ll be successful in my film endeavors and life in general.”