photo by Ivan Caballero

My name is Melissa Franco. I am a 19-year-old, South Sacramento native. After growing up with three siblings in a quite interesting household with my mother and step-dad, I’ve been shaped into a humble and creative person. I have two sisters, and a brother. My biological father exited my life very soon into my childhood, but later after finding out what interests and passions we share, I take pride in knowing that my talents and passions have very much to do with what lies in my blood.

I always did well in school. I started reading at the age of 4. Schools always tried to get me to move up a grade but my mother refused for reasons unknown and I discovered early on that I had a passion for filmmaking, apparently like my biological father who is also into filmmaking. I’d sit on my parents now-dinosaur of a computer and start off by creating slideshows on Windows Movie Maker. I was only in 5th grade when the news about my hobby spread around, and my principal had me create a video to show the entire auditorium for Teachers Appreciation Day.

After my grandmother passed away while I was in middle school, everything in my life changed quickly. From watching the death take a toll on my mother’s mental and physical health and the tearing apart of my family, to going through extreme phases of confusion and depression, I had experienced a roller coaster of emotions during my teen years.

While I was attending Capital City School during my junior year, an amazing woman named Mrs. Nawrocki, changed my life. She pushed me to go to college early, which I did, and helped me dive deeper into schooling and self-discipline. I knew I wanted to be a filmmaker but surrounding myself with older students who had the same passion helped me understand where my passions in film were specifically.

I graduated from John F. Kennedy High School last year, moved out of my parents right after to take a break from school and experience this wacky “real-world” on my own, left my grocery store job to be a full time activist as a fundraiser for amazing non profits, but quickly tired myself out from activism because of the way that I was doing it. I found that I should first, begin in my community, before fry my brain with stress from the injustices that this country faces, or the world.

I plan to make films that allow more representation of minorities in positive lights only and give women a place in film as characters who aren’t just seen as objects onto our screens, for the rest of my life, before and after earning a Ph.D.in Film Studies at UCSC. I also plan on creating a facility for the youth of Sacramento to have access to all tools for the process of creating all art forms. Lastly, I would love to start my own film program here in Sacramento for young minorities to make changes through film.