Dora Zhu

Motion Pictures & Television / MFA

The age of most people’s first memory is four years old, Mine is two.

Kangaroo pajamas, a pouch where my locked fingers nestle until it is time to spin onto the catwalk. A statuesque model guides me down the runway, her clutch a bit tight. I think she is nervous. The bright lights. A sea of smiling faces. Laughter and hands clapping. My kangaroo pajamas and I find ourselves on national TV: the fashion show for children’s clothing a success. My kangaroo pajamas a pre-order sellout within a day.

Sixteen years later, I find myself again in front of the camera. My college filmmaker friends ask me to be in their films. One says You are my muse. I want you to be in all my films. It’s fun, I tell him – a pleasant diversion from my English and mass media studies. But behind the camera, not in front, is where I want to live.

In college, I started learning and plying my craft. I began by directing and editing short documentaries that found their way onto popular Chinese social media platforms, such as 706 Youth Space. But feeling that I hadn't yet learned enough to venture out into the world as a filmmaker. So I headed to the U.S. to pursue my graduate studies.

It has been both fun and demanding juggling my schedule to edit short narrative films, music videos, short documentaries, and PSAs for professional clients. While I might have rued the time my father sent me to live and work in a poor community, the hard work and challenging conditions ingrained in me a work ethic that has made me a go-to editor: someone whose creativity shines.

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