MCS Media Fest Features Student Films, ‘East Los High’ Actors

May 21 film, video game festival at UCR includes celebrity panels with HULU series creator, stars, and independent film, TV writers and producers

East Los High poster

Cast members from the HULU original series “East Los High” will participate in the third annual MCS Media Festival on May 21.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Cast members from HULU’s Emmy-nominated drama “East Los High” and independent film and television creators and directors will discuss their work in an all-day festival showcasing student films and video games at UC Riverside on Thursday, May 21.

The third annual MCS Media Festival, which celebrates student filmmakers in the Department of Media and Cultural Studies, begins at 11 a.m. and continues until 5 p.m. in CHASS Interdisciplinary Building, Rooms 1128 and 1109. The event is free and open to the public. Registration to attend the celebrity panels is required as seating is limited. Free parking will be available in Lot 24, on Canyon Crest Drive just north of University Avenue. An awards ceremony on May 22 is by invitation only.

This year’s theme is “MCS Media Fest Celebrates California – its resilience and challenges,” and features 27 films and nine video games created by media and cultural studies students. Awards will be presented for Best Documentary, Best Drama, Best Experimental, Best Romance, Best Cinematography, Best Editing and Best Film.

“HULU is very excited to participate in our festival,” said Tabassum “Ruhi” Khan, the festival organizer and assistant professor of media and cultural studies. “The producers/creators and lead actors of ‘East Los High’ will discuss the challenges of creating innovative and responsible programming in emerging media environments. These interactions will create dynamic conversations for students and scholars with interest in examining questions of health, youth, identity and media. They will also provide useful insight to students seeking a foothold in cultural industries.”

“East Los High” creator/director Carlos Portugal and actors Danielle Vega and Gabriel Chavarria will discuss their work on the Emmy-nominated series from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. To reserve a seat, go to Now in its third season, the series features an all-Latino cast and focuses on trials and tribulations of Latino youth in a fictional High School in East Hollywood.

“The show is a unique example of a commitment by popular entertainment programming to addressing important issues of reproductive health and rights among youth populations, especially from the perspective of minority populations,” Khan said.

The creative team is overseen by an advisory board, which provides feedback throughout the development process and sometimes during production, she explained. “The producer’s goal is to make sure that the different social issues are portrayed in an accurate and meaningful way while modeling healthy behaviors and providing access to relevant information and/or services.”

The key agencies associated with the show are: Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Planned Parenthood Los Angeles, East Los Angeles Women’s Center, The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, The National Domestic Violence Hotline, Loveisrespect, Gay-Straight Network Alliance, CALÓ Youth Build, Advocates for Youth, and GLAAD.

Danielle Vega, who was nominated for an Emmy for her portrayal of Ceci Camayo in the series, was a series regular at age 9 on the children’s TV show “Barney and Friends.” She starred in Debbie Allen’s musical stage production, “Pepito’s Story,” and most recently starred in the independent films “So This Is Christmas,” with Vivica A. Fox, and the vampire horror film “Teeth and Blood,” with Glenn Plummer.

Gabriel Chavarria, who plays Jacob Aguilar, has appeared in films such as “Freedom Writers” and “A Better Life,” and in TV shows such as “Southland,” “Prime Suspect” and “Major Crimes.”

Carlos Portugal produced the Emmy Award-winning documentary “Frida Kahlo: Portrait of an Artist” while at KQED, San Francisco’s PBS station, and has worked as a writer, producer and creative director for ABC, NBC, Lifetime, Telemundo, Fox Latin American Channel and Fox Kids. He was a staff writer for three seasons on Tyler Perry’s “Meet the Browns” and “House of Payne,” and o-wrote, produced and directed “Pop Star,” a teen musical that premiered on Lifetime in 2013.

A 2 p.m. panel will feature independent film writer/director Jesse Rosen and film and television producer Laurence Ducceschi. Rosen is known for his work on “The Art of Being Straight” (2008), “The Jazz Funeral” (2014), and “Pegged” (2012). Ducceschi is known for his work on “Beauty & the Briefcase” (2010), “Category 7: The End of the World” (2005) and “The Art of Being Straight” (2008). RSVP to




Media Contact

Tel: (951) 827-7847
Twitter: bettyemiller

Additional Contacts

Tabassum "Ruhi" Khan
Tel: (951) 827-1389

Festival information

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