Cerritos College
Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

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From backstage to onstage

Kailei Lopez, film major, who mostly works behind the camera, such as editing and cinematography, on productions, will make her debut in front of the camera early 2019. Photo credit: Jackelynn Martinez

La La Land is the city where many individuals filled with dreams and determination try their best to get their foot in the door of the entertainment industry.

However, in the harsh world of entertainment, only a lucky few are able to make it into the field. For 18-year-old Kailei Lopez, she is now one of them.

Lopez is a film major at Cerritos College, focusing on working behind the scenes in editing and cinematography and will soon make her mark in front of the camera in an upcoming film, scheduled for release in early 2019.

Lopez was born in the city of Torrance, the second youngest of five children, and eventually moved to Compton with her siblings and mother when she was in kindergarten.

During the summer, her family would go to the Park in Manhattan concert series and watch movies where she was exposed to different varieties of music and films, giving her an appreciation of all genres of music and different forms of art.

Before getting into film, the long-time Compton resident initially wanted to work as a photographer for National Geographic, however, her camera proved to be an obstacle.

“She was trying to get off the camera shy, and you know being in front of people,” Carmen Reynoso, Lopez’s mother, said. “So she started modeling. That’s what she wanted to do initially cause (sic) she wanted to marry Adam Levine.”

Lopez initially wanted to become a photographer but became interested in cinematography while attending a film class in high school. While in high school, Lopez became involved with group of fellow students, The Crew, who worked with lighting, filming and editing. Photo credit: Jackelynn Martinez

Reynoso stated that in addition to helping her gain confidence being on camera, Lopez also gained a better insight on the role of a photographer.

“She’s an awesome girl, she’s very smart and hardworking,” she said.

Lopez attended Compton High School, where she would eventually meet her film teacher, motivator and parental figure Juan Reynoso.

Juan Reynoso was a graduate from California State University, Dominguez Hills and has worked in the movie industry doing stunt work and production.

From the influence of his friends, he became a teacher after returning to school and graduating in 2000 and for almost 20 years has helped young adults with the ways of the industry.

“You don’t have to be famous to make a lot of money in the industry,” he said. “The industry is always enthusiastic about my students.”

“I wasn’t all that interested [in his class] at first,” Lopez admitted with a smile. “It wasn’t my thing and I wanted to do photography and I had it set that I wanted to do photography.”

Lopez soon gained interest in the world of film through learning experiences of “The Crew,” a group of students both current and alumni who are heavily involved in the TV Production class and get involved with doing industry-type works for events such as lighting, filming and editing.

“Next thing I know, from modeling she comes home and says, ‘Oh you know I’m going to be late at school because I’m learning how to film,’” Carmen Reynoso said, recalling when her daughter started to immerse herself into the production class. “Everything came out of the group he [Juan Reynoso] has.

“From then on, it’s been ongoing. She mentioned she didn’t want to be in front of the camera, she wanted to be behind the camera.”

“Being in ‘The Crew’ has changed me,” Lopez said, “I became more interested and became more sociable. It’s the reason how I am now.”

She also stated that Juan Reynoso and “The Crew” have given her the support and motivation to finish school and to further her education.

During her time with “The Crew” and while learning more about working behind the scenes, she met her boyfriend Fabricio Monreal, another Cerritos College student who is also a film major.

KAILEI-2 (1).jpg
Kailei Lopez has a passion for cinematography and as an alumni member of Compton High School "The Crew" helps film, edit and set up lighting for various school events. Photo credit: Jackelynn Martinez

Monreal is also an alumni from Compton High School who, like other members, go help the current students enrolled in Juan Reynoso’s class.

In addition, Monreal has done camerawork for productions, short films and scriptwriting.

Monreal stated that he originally took Reynoso’s TV Production as a regular class like Lopez, eventually falling in love with the work.

“She’s very happy and positive,” he said. “She brings a smile to you and she’s very passionate.”

As the couple work on various projects within the film industry, Monreal stated that they always stay positive for each other and give each other words of encouragement, reminding each other they both got each other’s backs.

“I know she gives it all she’s got,” he said, “and she has great opportunities. She will gain a lot of knowledge [during filming] and it will help her for her career in the future.”

“If she needs anything, I’m there,” he added.

Lopez is currently working with Patricia Vidal Delgado, a director working on a film she wrote, “La Leyenda Negra,” translated as “The Black Legend.”

The coming-of-age film focuses on a burning friendship between a popular student and a social outcast who learns to get the strength and support to be themselves.

Delgado states that casting Lopez in the role of Rosarito, one of the main protagonists in the film, was a perfect choice because both girls are shy and sweet with courage hidden inside of them.

“Kailei has core strength and independence,” Delgado said. “In the beginning of production, she was shy, as we went along she overcame it, which worked well during filming.

“Working in ‘La Leyenda Negra,’ Kailei slowly eroded her natural shyness in order to channel Rosarito’s shyness.

Delgado sees herself working with Kailei again in the
future. “That would be great, I have confidence that she will be fine, I really
hope so.”

Being from Compton and living with all the stereotypes different people have of
the city and the people who live in it, with the support of her loved ones,
Lopez believes she isn’t tied down by those images but excited to embody new
depictions of her community.

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About the Contributors
Jackelynn Martinez
Jackelynn Martinez, Staff Writer
Carlos Martinez
Carlos Martinez, College Life Editor
Carlos Martinez Jr. is the College Life editor at TalonMarks. He is a Journalism major as well as doing some drawing and designs as a hobby. His goal is to get more involved in the media as a reporter and an editor. 
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