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“Don’t Leave Her Out,” Meet Saleen Lee

As a Chinese-American teenage girl, Saleen Lee describes how being misrepresented and underrepresented in media is an isolating experience. When she walks down the street or watches TV and sees people in ads and popular televisions shows, she doesn’t see someone who looks like her. “I feel like I’m always left out. I am always looking for someone who looks like me in all the media I see. I’m always yearning for that person I can relate to.”

When Saleen was a kid, her mom watched Charlie’s Angels. Saleen felt like really empowered, seeing Lucy Lui, a powerful woman, fighting villains and defying stereotypes set for Asian American women. This positive role model made a huge impact on Saleen, who notes that Asian women are often left in the shadows.“People who look like me are often background characters, secondary characters, or have non-speaking roles. Asian women are portrayed as two dimensional characters that aren’t relatable or likable.” As a result of discouraging media representation, Saleen feels she is seen through this lens by the world.

“Media stereotypes tell me that I am supposed to be quiet and submissive. I am supposed to be a secondary character in someone else’s life. I am not supposed to have my own troubles or feelings. It puts me in a place where I feel like I am a background character in my own life. I feel invisible because I have no one to relate to. It makes me feel like because my story isn’t told, it isn’t valid.”

Saleen believes that the sharing of diverse stories is the vehicle to validate people’s unique and authentic experiences in the world. Far too often, the storytellers come from outside of the community they tell stories about. Saleen thinks instead, people need to listen. Let communities speak for themselves and represent themselves!

”The fact that there are so many stories throughout history that could involve people of color, that could involve people that look like me, but that aren’t being told is really disheartening.” Growing up at BAYCAT, Saleen says that she was exposed to the most amazing work she’s ever seen, produced by women and people of color. Yet in Hollywood, it’s still mostly movies made by white men.

“I know that women and people of color produce amazing work, but we aren’t given the resources to be filmmakers.” Saleen sees BAYCAT as the solution. At 12 years old Saleen was put in front of a camera and behind a camera for the first time. “BAYCAT really helped me discover my talent and passion for filmmaking. At my school, I don’t have this type of equipment or programs. When I went into BAYCAT it was like entering a whole new world. We worked with a camera on the very first day.” Saleen says that because of BAYCAT she’s gone from a shy student in the back of the class to a leader creating her own independent films.

Through a BAYCAT partnership, Saleen was hired by UCSF to make films for two annual Young Women’s Health Summit, where she was able to impact thousands of diverse young women by shedding light on critical issues like body image, rape culture, female empowerment and social media. You can watch one of her videos here. Saleen says, “The most important lesson is that whatever stories I create deserve to be told.”

Saleen’s message is loud and clear: Stop portraying people of color and women as background characters!

 

Sick of the Same Stories? Your New Storytellers Are Here.

Join us to support young women like Saleen, who refuse to be silent.

“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!

 

“Stop Dumbing Yourself Down,” Meet Angela King

16 year old Angela King can light up an entire room with just one of her signature smiles. She is a singer, songwriter, music producer, activist and a high school junior. A seasoned BAYCAT student, Angela is an indispensable role model to our younger students. Yet from an early age she struggled to find role models in the media. She was disappointed to find time and time again that people who looked like her were often represented as “loud and ignorant”.

“Media representation is not authentic, what you see in media does not parallel what you see in real life.” Angela talks about the internalized oppression she’s experienced as a result of how African American youth are portrayed in the media, “you start hearing things about yourself and you start believing it, and you think you’re supposed to act the way you’ve been told to act. You start to take into account how people view that image of you. Though Angela defies the negative stereotypes that she sees represented in the media, she says, It almost gets to me.”

As the only African American female in her entire AP Geography course, Angela admits that she used to feel that she had to fit herself into the stereotypes she saw on the media: “I wanted to hide my intellect. I wanted to hide my knowledge. I didn’t want to seem intelligent. In order to fit in with my community, I had to dumb myself down and that’s something I felt I had to do because that’s how I have been represented. What does that say about misrepresentation?” Angela says, “I ask myself why there isn’t more people like me represented to look educated? Smart?”

Before coming to BAYCAT, Angela had big dreams about one day being a superstar. Think: Beyonce. Unfortunately, she had no idea how to make that dream a reality. At 11 years old, she walked through BAYCAT’s doors, admittedly introverted and unable to look anyone in the eyes. Immediately she realized that BAYCAT was going to be really special. I knew this was a place where I’m comfortable being me”, she says.

Angela recalls her first solo song that she made at BAYCAT, about moving outside San Francisco and not having a space of her own to write music. Angela’s family, like so many others, had been displaced by skyrocketing housing costs, but she says, writing that song helped me get that stress off my mind”.

Though women and people of color are grossly underrepresented in creative media roles, the lack of diversity in media is something Angela knows we can change,I’m 100% sure that not just white men can make media. I make media, and I’m not a man or white.”

“BAYCAT is giving opportunities to people like me, to represent me, in the right way. BAYCAT has brought tons of joy and inspiration into my life. I used to see myself as somebody who wasn’t musically gifted enough. Even though I had big dreams, I lacked self confidence and now after seeing what I have already done at BAYCAT, it gives me a lot of pride.”

Remember Angela’s dream? That pop star dream? In just a few years it’s molded into something radically bigger, and much more authentic. Wise beyond her years, Angela explains, “It’s not about becoming the next Beyonce. It’s not about becoming Drake. It’s about becoming YOU. Honestly, be yourself. I’ve faced a lot of internalized oppression about myself, and I won’t be labeled as anybody else but me.”

Even after all she’s accomplished at just 16 years old, Angela reminds us, “you can’t put a due date on art.” What’s next for Angela? She wants to record more solo music that takes a stand against misrepresentation in the media. I hope more people get to see the wonder of BAYCAT. I hope people stop seeing people who look like me as people who don’t care about education.”

Sick of the same stories? Your new storytellers are here. Join us.

Donate to BAYCAT to support powerful young women like Angela King.

Summer Media Camp Film and Graphic Animation/Design Teaching Assistants

Summer Camp Teaching Assistant (Volunteer Opportunity)

WHO WE ARE

Bayview-Hunters Point Center for Arts and Technology (BAYCAT) is a nonprofit media production studio that educates and empowers low income youth, young people of color and young women in the Bay Area to produce socially-minded digital stories that positively transform our communities.

BAYCAT ACADEMY | Free digital media education in SF
The academy provides free digital media education to underserved youth and young adults in San Francisco.

 

WHAT WE CARE ABOUT

  • Creating positive social change through storytelling, design & media.
  • Giving a voice to those misrepresented or underrepresented.
  • Doing Well and Doing Good. We’re a sustainable nonprofit business model.
  • Excellence.  Highest Quality of Services in Education and Media Production.
  • Building Community, Inclusion & Equity.

 

THE OPPORTUNITY

WORK AS A TEACHING ASSISTANT DURING SUMMER MEDIA CAMP!

  • Co-teach media classes for underserved middle and high school students
  • Hone your own production skills through assisting a class of youth
  • Acquire teaching and youth development experience
  • Network with industry professionals

 

DESIRED SKILLS

Film Teaching Assistants

  • 1+ year of direct experience in film production
  • Knowledge of DSLR cameras and Adobe Premiere Pro
  • An interest in and/or experience with youth mentorship or teaching
  • Ability to follow a lesson plan and support the lead instructor with daily tasks
  • Understanding of the BAYCAT mission to promote diversity in media
  • bility to commit to the full Summer session in San Francisco

Graphic Animation or Design Teaching Assistants

  • 1+ year of direct experience in creating graphic design or animation projects
  • Knowledge of Adobe Flash, Adobe Photoshop, or Adobe After Effects
  • An interest in and/or experience with youth mentorship or teaching
  • Ability to follow a lesson plan and support the lead instructor with daily tasks
  • Understanding of the BAYCAT mission to promote diversity in media
  • Ability to commit to the full Summer session in San Francisco

 

DETAILS

  • The Commitment:
    • Summer Media Camp preparation begins during the week of May 29th
    • Official instruction period June 12th – August 3rd
      • Mondays – Thursdays from 1:00pm – 5:00pm
    • Other meetings and events:
      • Teacher Orientation: May 31st
      • End of term film premiere: Thursday, August 3rd
      • End of term team reflection week of August 7th

 

WHAT YOU WILL BE PAID

Teaching Assistant is a stipend position. Classes are held at the BAYCAT studio, located within the Potrero Hill neighborhood. This is stipend teaching position with significant professional development opportunities.

 

APPLY

To apply, please send a thoughtful cover letter and resume to programs@baycat.org

Why Donate to BAYCAT Today?

Because our educational and training programs bring diverse talent to the tech, media and creative industries.

Make their dream jobs come true. Help us reach our $85,000 goal today.

In light of all that has occurred in the past months and especially in this past week, BAYCAT stands strong and committed to equality, social justice and opportunities for all. For the last 12 years, we have served those most misrepresented in our country: 100% low-income youth, youth of color, young women and unemployed young adults. Last year, 300 applicants applied for our 100 positions. It is a myth that there aren’t enough diverse, talented and qualified candidates who are female or of color, and passionate about working in the creative industry.

We’re here to tell the real story and their stories. The pipeline of qualified young people is here in San Francisco and the Bay Area, and that is why we want to solidify the path between education and employment for more qualified youth-in-need.

BAYCAT gets real and sustainable results. 80% of BAYCAT Studio interns get hired after graduating from BAYCAT at companies like Autodesk, Lucasfilm, HBO, Hulu, Netflix, Pixar, Sephora and WIRED. Our transitional-age young adult graduates are on the path to careers with livable wage salaries that will keep these talented digital media creatives in the Bay Area. These 18-24 year olds are 100% low-income, unemployed or underemployed and predominately of color and female. They are the solution to keeping San Francisco diverse, inclusive, and vibrant.

BAYCAT Studio is an important part of our unique hybrid business model. Working with nationally-recognized and socially responsible clients like The Golden State Warriors and National Parks Service makes the internship and on-the-job experience for our students real and relevant, while building their resumes for success. Although in this last year, our Studio helped to bring in 40% of our annual income, the revenue from our Studio alone does NOT pay for all the educational and on-the-job training costs. Every dollar earned supports our ability to keep our Academy and internship pipeline going, but we also need your donations to keep our youth classes free, and to allow us to pay and train our interns on-the-job.

Many of our Academy students grow with us through the years and become graduates of our Studio Internship Program because the mentoring they receive keeps them focused and on-track. 100% of our youth of color who have taken more than two BAYCAT Academy classes continue their education in school. For many BAYCAT students, our facility is the only place they have to access industry-grade equipment to teach them professional tech and storytelling skills in conjunction with a safe and nurturing environment that teaches them skills every employer is looking for: the ability to problem solve, to collaborate, critically think, communicate and actively listen and learn.

Turning 200 students away last year was extremely difficult. With growing demand from our youth and from the tech, media and creative industries for increased diversity, now is the time to build our reserves so that we can strategically plan to scale what we do best to bring more diverse youth into the education to employment pipeline.

BAYCAT students are diverse. Help us change the face(s) of the tech, media and creative industries, literally.

BAYCAT Stats

Want to meet some of our graduates in person? Join us and our youth on December 8th from 6pm-8pm, for the World Premiere of Zoom In: Episode 36 – The Media Effect at the recently renovated, historic Bayview Opera House. Witness and listen to our students’ stories as they address the role of race, gender and new technologies in the media.

More than 3,500 BAYCAT low-income students and interns found success with our model. You can be a part of the solution that our region, and this country, needs to see and hear. You can give them the support and tools they need to become skilled, qualified, educated, digital media artists.

You can help them find their dream jobs and not just survive, but thrive. Please donate today.

Interested in going the extra mile and doing more this year? Set up your own fundraising page and goal. Go to our donate page, and click Become a Supporter. Start Your Own Campaign Page.

Let’s get students to dream big, get hired and repeat!

Inside BAYCAT: Carla Orendorff, BAYCAT Media Producer & Mentor

Getting to Know our Newest Team Member & Youth Media Instructor

Meet Carla! Carla joins BAYCAT as a Media Producer and Mentor, working with the youth and young adults teaching filmmaking skills. A documentary filmmaker, artist and educator, Carla has taught filmmaking classes with hundreds of young people in collaboration with organizations throughout Los Angeles and the Bay Area, and is excited to use her skills to inspire a new group of students.

Where are you from? 

I was born in Hollywood and raised in Los Angeles. I mostly grew up in Reseda- which is in the San Fernando Valley, 30 miles northwest of LA. The Valley is where the term “Valley Girl” comes from, so I guess that makes me one! The neighborhood I grew up in is a diverse, working-class Latino, Asian, and Eastern European immigrant community with lots of families and many languages spoken. The landscape consists of auto body shops and horse stalls and the subject of the Tom Petty song, “Free Fallin.”  Reseda is also where the movie Karate Kid takes place.

Why the Bay Area? 

The Bay Area has always been this place of possibility- there is a spirit of challenging the status quo through art and politics that is very inspiring to me. I have always been drawn to the legacies of radical activism here in the Bay Area- from the Black Panthers, to the student activism for Ethnic Studies at SF State, to queer activism of ACT UP during the AIDS crisis. What I love most are the people here- the many faces that I see become familiar in a city full of neighborhoods, each with their own histories.
The reality of living in the Bay Area, specifically in San Francisco, has been harsh. The cost of living, the struggle for housing, and the fight to remain in the city affects all of us- whether you are a teacher, a businessman, a mother, a city worker, or a young person just trying to get by. We are all connected and have a real impact on each others’ lives, and we need to make it right for all the families, the elders, and young people who call San Francisco their home.

What made you want to work with youth?

Growing up as a queer mixed-race girl, I didn’t see myself in the movies or TV shows I watched, or the books I read. Thankfully, I had some amazing teachers in high school who encouraged me to develop my own perspective as an artist and an activist- it was the first time I began to take my own ideas seriously. My hope, as an educator, is to challenge this dominant culture of profit and level the playing field where young people recognize their power as creators, decision makers, and full and complete human beings with something important and valuable to share with the world.

What is your favorite part of working with youth?

I love the way young people breathe life into a room, into your lesson plans, take the theme and the concepts we’re working with and make it their own. Young people will always surprise you. They keep it real too. I’m grateful to always be learning from the experiences of young people. Oh! They also make me laugh and tend to find the humor in all things.

Have you had and fun or memorable experiences with youth in your career so far?

So many! I will never forget shutting down the 2nd Street tunnel in Los Angeles with 40 young people to film an opening scene on Halloween a few years back. Working on the set of a Margaret Cho music video with a team of teen girls was amazing. Seeing young people off to college or writing recommendations for jobs in their dream field has been extremely rewarding as well.

What has working with young people taught you?

Working with youth has reminded me to never give up on the 15 year-old girl that resides in me and to tell her to never give up on her dreams.

Why is youth media important?

Seeing the world through the eyes of young people will change the way you look at the world. Young people hold vision and they have really solid ideas about how to make the world a better and more inclusive place for all people. I have seen youth media inform curriculum, affect policy, and remind us of what it means to bring out our best for our communities and ourselves.

What do you do when you’re not at BAYCAT?

You can find me swimming, climbing trees, reading books, watching movies in old theaters, going for long walks through the city, and working on my own documentary projects.

Quickies:

Last book read? Spitboy Rule: Tales of a Xicana in a Female Punk Band by Michelle Cruz Gonzales

On Your iPod? Kendrick Lamar’s good kid m.A.A.D city forever, on repeat.

Favorite movie: Shadows by John Cassavetes

Favorite restaurant: The Old Clam House in Bayview

Favorite meal of all time: Sopa de Mani is a potato and peanut based stew from Bolivia, where my mom is from. It’s cooked slowly over hours with beef ribs and garnished with parsley fries on top- so delicious!

BAYCAT San Francisco Nonprofit Social Enterprise Internship and Youth Programs

Not Quite Goodbye: Music Producer Jason Valerio Makes His Move

Member of BAYCAT’s Music Program Pursuing Music Full-Time

After an AMAZING 4 years at BAYCAT, Jason “Trackademicks” Valerio will be pursuing his music career full-time. Jason, a Bay Area native, will be splitting his time between the Bay and LA. Here’s a little insight into his future plans, plus what he will miss, and why this isn’t goodbye.

Where are you from? 

Alameda, CA.

So Bay *and* LA? Why keep both?

There’s nowhere with the Bay Area’s specific flavor. A true cultural Melting pot. A Lot of ethnically/culturally mixed folks, with equally diverse neighborhoods make for an awesome living experience. Never boring. Aside from the people, the nature here is amazing. The microclimates make it so that you can experience whatever weather you want, whenever you want. The mountains, trees, water, beaches, are all so picturesque. As a Bay Area resident, you pretty much have it all.

What will you miss most about working with youth?

The Youth keep you Young. I cherish the fact that I’ve gotten to see my students at that moment of epiphany where something “clicks”… It’s a constant reminder of my own journey and how those very same things happened for me. It’s a very rewarding thing to be able to demystify certain concepts and processes for youth. They’ll always remember how you helped their development. What I’ll miss most is the daily exchange of knowledge and ideas, as I’ve learned so much from them as well.

What is your most fun or memorable experiences with youth in your career?

There’s are too many to name. In general, the most memorable moments are when the students’ questions start to subside, and they shift from needing assistance with the music making process to being self sufficient. Aside from that, I remember working with one of my students, Thomas, and him saying that he’d never be able to do a beat in one day. Next thing you know he was producing 3-5 in one class sitting.

What has working with youth taught you?

I’ve learned that you can’t just explain something just one way. You have to convey the material you teach from almost every possible perspective/method, as each student learns differently. Also, I’ve learned that they’ll absorb as much as you throw at them. They’ll surprise you with how much they’re able to accomplish. They’ve also reminded me to always communicate.

What’s next for you?

Music, Music, Music. I’m going to continue to develop my company, HNRL Music, producing and collaborating for a range of different musicians. I’d love to get into film scoring too. I’ll definitely be DJ’ing out more, hoping to throw some great events in the near future. Also, hopefully exploring more of the Southern California “Fresh Coast”, as I’ve mostly been a NorCal person. And just more traveling in general. I’m definitely not planning it out… just going to go with the flow.

Is this the end of Jason and BAYCAT?

Definitely not! I love BAYCAT. It will forever be family. I’d love to come back and share what I learn during my time away with the interns and the youth!

Any last words?

My time at BAYCAT has been on of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. I’m thankful to have had the chance to know everyone here! I’ll miss everyone deeply!

Always Our Way, All Bay, All Bay All Day. Forever Fresh Coastin’. Yeee!

Quickies:

Favorite album: N*E*R*D ‘In Search of…’

On Your iPod: Sade, Kaytranada, Prince, King, Trackademicks

Favorite movie: The Secret of My Succe$s

Favorite restaurant: La Penca Azul in Alameda… mostly because of the time had there

Favorite meal of all time: Too many to name… probably

Avoid the Back to School Rush + Support Diversity

Streamline back to school shopping, and do some good while you’re at it!

BTS

Back to school madness is upon us. The end of summer means school is now back in session. As students head back to the classroom, busy parents are even busier making sure kids are prepared. Consider giving yourself or someone you love one less headache during this hectic shopping season – try smile.amazon.com, and let the schools supplies come to you. Plus, using this link means Amazon donates a percentage of what is spent to BAYCAT, investing in our community at no cost to you. It doesn’t matter if you live in San Francisco or the other side of the world — anyone can share and use the link to Benefit BAYCAT. Be sure to bookmark it on whatever search engine you use and then just click the link every time you want to shop at Amazon. It’s simple, easy and a really great way to help fund the work our students and interns do without any additional cost to you.

Wishing you a safe and healthy start to the new school year!

– The BAYCAT Team

Inside BAYCAT: Meet Alessandra Carter, Our Academy Manager

Getting to Know our Newest Team Member on Youth Education, Media + More

Meet Alessandra Carter, aka “Ms. C!”  An Oakland native, she recently returned to the Bay Area and brings a huge enthusiasm for youth, education and social justice.  Jumping right into the role of Academy Manager, she’s already on board leading our Academy for our first Summer Media Camp focusing on music.

Why the Bay Area? 

In late 2015, I was living in Harlem New York. I had been there for 6 years and decided that I wanted to return to the Bay. Now that I’m home, I look forward to contributing to the educational space, specifically educational program design and college access and career readiness efforts for low-income and underserved populations.

What made you want to work with youth?

I’ve been in the educational field for 6+ years. I enjoy their energy, honesty and am constantly inspired by their resiliency.

What is your favorite part of working with youth?

Building relationships and creating opportunities for them to learn more about career and college options.

Have you had and fun or memorable experiences with youth in your career so far?

I’ve had quite a few. While working at a start-up in Manhattan, NY, I managed a 6-week Computer Science and leadership intensive for Black and Latino boys. My work included recruiting the students, reviewing applications, planning exposure trips and supporting the lead Computer Science teacher. It was a whirlwind experience!

My favorite parts were getting to know the boys and taking them on the career exposure trips to awesome companies like Google.

What has working with youth taught you?

That students can be learners as well as teachers.

Why is youth media important?

Well, I think it’s important for two reasons.

1-  It’s important to empower the traditionally disempowered and disenfranchised because their experiences are valuable.

2- Youth media, especially in the current social and political climate, has value because they tell stories from a viewpoint that can be overlooked by adults.

What do you do when you’re not at BAYCAT?

Spend time with family, dabble in digital photography and (re)explore my hometown, Oakland.

Quickies:

Last book read? Soka Education, By Daisaku Ikeda.

On Your iPod? I’m more of a Spotify/Google Play kinda girl.

Jill Scott, Kendrick Lamar, Anita Baker, Anderson Paak and Frankie Beverly and Maze are usually in rotation 🙂

Favorite movie: That’s hard! Top 3: The Lion King, Sister Act and Steel Magnolias.

Favorite restaurant: I just moved back to the Bay. I don’t have a favorite just yet. Recommendations?

Favorite meal of all time: Southern style smothered chicken over rice and collard greens. Sweet potato pie and vanilla bean ice cream for dessert.