Jan 27, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Latino stars in the making get big nods

Samuel Correa, a high school student, holds a phone camera attached to his body in a dark space that looks like a garage.

Photo by Maria Ricardo, courtesy of Samuel Correa

Latino teen filmmakers, musicians and playwrights are among the high school seniors nominated for this year’s U.S. Presidential Scholars Program.

What to know: The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program was established in 1964 by President Lyndon Johnson to recognize high school seniors that excel academically. An arts scholars program was incorporated in 1979.

  • The nominations for the arts scholars are made by the nonprofit YoungArts, which runs a week-long workshop with over 100 teenage applicants every year.
  • YoungArts counts among past winners actors Timothée Chalamet, Hunter Schafer and Viola Davis; inaugural poet Amanda Gorman, and composer Terence Blanchard.
  • A White House commission will review the 60 arts nominees and select 20 of them for presidential recognition later this year.

What they’re saying: I would have never thought I’d be recognized by one of the highest awards in the country, not only because I’m a Latino American but also because I’m from a public school that doesn’t push the arts much,” Colombian-American scholar nominee and filmmaker Samuel Correa told Axios Latino.

“It’s a huge validation to be recognized especially because I, in a way, started filmmaking as a process to get my mind away from worrying about fitting in with the American culture, gave me something I could do for myself that no one has a say with regardless of if I’m from Colombia, don’t write English perfectly, that no one could make stereotypes about.”
— Samuel Correa
  • Fellow YoungArts winners and presidential scholar nominees of Latin origins include flutist Rodrigo Rodriguez Hernandez, filmmaker Ryan Diaz-Rousselot, writer Anya Jiménez and pianist Adrián Zaragoza.

Watch: Performances, readings, screenings and online exhibitions of the 60 nominees’ works will be streamed for free at 8pm this Saturday through Feb. 4. Register here.

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