Could you tell us a little bit about yourself? Your name, pronouns, and a brief summary of yourself as a person and a designer?
Hi everybody. My name is Nina Casillas. I'm the designer behind Find Me at the Crossroads. My pronouns are she/her or they/them; still trying to figure that out, but a little bit about me. I was born in California, raised in Illinois and Arizona, uh, before coming out to LMU for college, which I'm a senior. And just about myself as a designer, I really care about making projects that, you know, highlight issues that I'm passionate about and, um, you know, maybe, uh, give a new perspective to something that might be more mainstream. Um, but you know, taking it and looking at it from a different angle. Um, and I hope to kind of continue that theme throughout my life and throughout my career as a designer. But, uh, yeah.
How do you highlight your individual identity in your work, the intersections between them and what inspired you to share these parts of yourself with the world through your work?
So when it comes to highlighting my individual identity, um, I am bisexual. I am Mexican, um, and Native American, uh, and I'm a woman and this project is really kind of the first time that I felt comfortable enough and secure enough to really be vulnerable and share, uh, parts of myself with, you know, within my art.
Previously I have really been inspired by my friends. Um, you know, I came out at 14 years old, um, and through the years just seeing my friends come out as trans or, uh, bisexual or, you know, finding their, their own pride in their heritage has really inspired me. And they have kind of been a big focal point in my work. Um, and at this point in my life, I've just kind of realized that, um, you know, I have this great support system, so, you know, I deserve to also be present in my work. Um, you know, I love to highlight them, but I also, you know, care about representing myself.
Um, and what kind of inspired me was, um, my mother always used to tell me when I was a teenager when I was trying to like, you know, figure out myself, to not put myself in boxes that I was, you know, just me, I was Nina, but growing up in, you know, uh, uh, primarily white town, white Mormon town, um, you know, I felt like I was already put in boxes. I was told that I acted white. I was told that I should join the church and that I was allowed to be bisexual, but I couldn't pursue it.
And that just, you know, I felt very conflicted and annoyed because, you know, I was being put in these boxes of, you know, assimilate and act like everybody else. And that's not who I was. So after a while, um, I decided, you know, no, like I'm in boxes no matter what, but I'm going to choose the boxes. You know, I am myself, but my self comes with all these different things. Um, and they do impact me.
And so ever since then, I've really kind of been more vocal about who I am. About being Mexican, about being Latina, and about being bisexual. You know, I say it openly. I used to stutter all the time, every time I "came out," but now I just say it and that has been very freeing. And I, you know, I'm kind of really excited about how that's going to come out in my work, pardon the pun.
How do you want your work to speak to others you may not identify with, and do you have any hopes in reaching out to different communities through your work?
When it comes to speaking to others that I, you know, don't identify with in my work, that's kind of really what I have done in my work. Um, the earliest I remember is, uh, the night of the, um, trial after Michael Brown's death, um, just being so frustrated and so hurt, uh, at this country. That was the first time I really...it really hit me, um, what the system was like. And I just remember sitting in my room, making posters to, you know, hang up at school the next day. Um, and, and since that moment, I have tried to really educate myself on other communities, and I don't believe there's ever a stopping point for that. I think, you know, uh, the world grows, the world changes and I am just trying to keep up and I hope I'm keeping up.
Um, I just want to give a voice, I want to raise awareness. I want to educate, um, the same way that I was lucky enough to be educated by, you know, amazing people, like, online who were sharing resources, who were, you know, helping people like me who was 15 years old and just kind of stepping into activism. You know, it was important to me that I didn't harm anyone along the way. And it's still important to me that I don't harm anyone along the way of my journey of activism. Um, because, you know, I believe that we all need to kind of be united, but I don't understand the plight of someone who is black. You know, I don't even really understand the plight of someone who's Mexican to darker skin than I am. Uh, you know, I'll never understand what it's like to be a trans woman or a trans man.
Like that's not my life experience. Um, the same way that, you know, a white person will never understand my experience. But it's, it's so important to learn empathy and learn how to, uh, raise awareness and speak on those issues. Um, and when it comes to representing that in my art, I really hope that I can do that in a way that doesn't, that isn't gratuitous in a way that isn't, um, kind of commodifying, uh, other people's lives and other people's struggles. Um, so that's just something that's very important to me.
How do you think the industry could consider and incorporate intersectionality in a more direct way, either behind the scenes or in the mainstream?
Incorporating intersectionality in the art industry is something that I obviously care about because, uh, you know, I'm Mexican, I'm a woman. Um, and I just hope that there's room for me, you know. Um, without incorporating intersectionality, it's like, there is no place for me or people like me.
Um, and I see this, especially in the film and TV industry, which is where I hope to work in the future. Um, you know, there are these stories of marginalized communities, but without those marginalized voices behind the camera or in the writer's room, and, you know, it comes off very...icky. It comes off, um, as like capitalizing on people's struggles. Uh, and I think that that's where the intersectionality could come into play a lot is just having, having those voices in the room. Um, you know, if you want to tell a story about someone that you don't identify with, that's perfectly fine, you know, but it's so important to get that input and to get someone with that life experience in the production of it. Um, you know, because that's who it's supposed to be benefiting, that is who we supposed to be speaking to. That is the audience. Even if you're trying to raise awareness, um, it could come off so wrong if it's not done with those people in mind with whatever, uh, subject or whatever topic you're trying to focus on.
I've seen it way too many times with a gratuitous violence against women and against the black community and black people in film. Um, and it's just tired at this point.
Uh, in the mainstream, you know, I think just raising awareness to what intersectionality even is, is important. Um, so many people, when I have talked about this project have asked me, you know, what the definition of intersectionality even is. Um, and it's a little bit shocking because that's, you know, that's kind of the culture I was raised in is, you know, I've surrounded myself with people who have intersectionality in the forefront of their mind and their considerations. Um, but it's also inspiring because it means that people are eager to learn.
And everybody I've told, you know, I've talked about this project has been eager to learn more and to see more. And that to me is very inspiring and just kind of shows me I'm in the right place. Um, and, you know, presenting this project to the right people.
Is there anything else you'd like to mention?
Last but not least, I mean, I really hope you like the rest of this project. That's really all I can say. You're on my website right now, so I don't need to plug it, but, um, my Instagram, you know, will be linked below and you can check out more projects in the future if you'd like.
But other than that, you know, I really hope that you take something away from this project. And I hope that you find some sort of pride in your identity, no matter what it can be. And I hope you, you know, help other people and raise awareness when you can, you know.
I learned of this, the, the saying like a while ago, um, and it was first, first me, no first you now me, I believe it was, it's a Spanish saying. And I can't, um, I can't find the right translation, but basically, you know, it's, you know, if I help you, I, then I hope you help the next person. And I hope that person helps the next person.
Um, and it's just the ripple effect essentially. Um, but yeah, uh, like I said, I hope you like this project. I hope you enjoy, you know, my fellow students who I interviewed, they had some very insightful things to say, and thank you for listening and watching. If you watch this whole thing, uh, and enjoy the project.