Cathedral City High alum pursues her Hollywood internship dream
Citlali Vazquez grew up playing with her stuffed animals, pretending they were on a TV show.
Now she is working in the film and television industry through a prestigious internship program run by the Television Academy Foundation (EMMYS).
“I’ve been interested in film and TV since I was a kid, and I guess I never gave up,” Vazquez said.
Vazquez, who graduated from Cathedral City High in 2018, was one of 40 students selected from across the country for the Television Academy Foundation’s 2022 summer internship program. She is currently enrolled at Cal State University, Fullerton.
She grew up watching cartoons, and now she’s taking animation to another level.
His work focuses on virtual and augmented reality for visual effects at Scanline VFX, a global visual effects and animation studio.
“I’ve always been drawn to seeing people use their imaginations to create something that doesn’t exist, and I wanted to do the same thing,” Vazquez said.
Years ago at Cathedral City High, Vazquez enrolled in the school’s Academy of Digital Arts and Technologies, a unique opportunity for high school students to earn dual-enrollment college credits and practice photography, film, animation, visual effects, 3D printing and other media.
“I wasn’t interested in photography,” Vazquez said. “It was forbidden. But I was interested in the animation side, graphic design, filmmaking, and so I started animation there and learned a lot about Adobe Animate (a software for industry).”
With this course as a springboard, Vazquez learned more about this program and other popular industry software. She ended up creating an animation that turned it into a film festival and helped her land a small scholarship to Cal State Fullerton.
“From there I was like, you know what? I want to keep doing this; I think it’s pretty cool,” Vazquez said.
She says working with virtual and augmented reality requires a totally different process than the animation she’s used to, but she likes the challenge.
“It’s a very advanced process. I mean, the animation has progressed as well, but it’s extremely advanced from what I notice,” she said.
Learning new techniques and technologies — she’s seen colleagues use 10 or more computer programs for certain effects — has been “really challenging” but also rewarding, she said.
“Seeing the whole process laid out – I’m like, wow, this is really amazing,” Vazquez said. “I love seeing how technology is used to bring someone’s imagination to life.”
So what’s next for her?
“After this internship, I will work to complete my studies,” she said. Her goal is to graduate next year. “From there, I’m going to branch out and see what jobs are available to me. It could be in whatever field I’m in right now, it could be in animation. I’m looking for production assistant roles because in those kind of jobs you get to see everything moving in front of you.”
“I want to learn more about how productions work and be able to dive into it,” Vazquez added. “I can’t just say I want to do this and expect everything to fall into place. I need to learn the process. I need to learn how things work.”
All the while, she’s been working on her own pet projects toward her long-term goal of becoming an animator. It’s a goal she’s clung to since she was a 6-year-old watching Cartoon Network.
“Right now I’m drawing a series of comics,” Vazquez said.
The series is about 3D printed copies trying to “live” a normal life despite the printer output not looking like they expected.
“I wanted to do this since high school, but I held it back for five years because of school,” Vazquez said. “I’ve learned to draw better, in general, so I feel ready to take on this project.”
Additionally, the ambitious go-getter is also working on a few animations, including reworking one she made in high school that entered a film festival and led to a scholarship.
“I wanted to redo the animation I did in high school because there are a lot of things I did wrong and a lot of shots that I disagree with.”
Jonathan Horwitz covers education for The Desert Sun. Contact him at [email protected] or @Writes_Jonathan.