By HELENE STAPINSKI
Amanda Reyes was auditioning for her umpteenth acting role in New York City recently when the casting director asked her to “be more ghetto.” It was nothing new. She had worked for several years in Los Angeles, and the acting parts for Latinas were for teenage moms, gang bangers and hustlers — never the protagonist — and more often than not, an offensive stereotype.
“I go through this almost every audition,” Ms. Reyes, 27, said. “It beats you down.” So a few years ago, well before the #OscarsSoWhite campaign began, she decided to take action and study screenwriting close to home, at the University of North Texas in Denton.
“I had to see if I could write genuine Latina roles,” she said. She developed a short film, which made it into some small festivals. Then she applied to the new Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema in Brooklyn, which opened its doors a year and a half ago.
Feirstein is part of the City University of New York, set on the Steiner Studio lot at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and it is surprisingly under the radar. It costs a third of most other film schools — $18,400 a year — and part of its mission is to admit women and minorities whose stories aren’t usually told. (For the full article, including film trailers from CUNY’s Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema’s students, please click here. )