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Deputy director of ASU film school named one of 2024’s Influential Latinos in Media

Peter Murrieta will bring film students along to celebration at MOCA in Los Angeles

A man sits in his office looking neutrally at the camera.

Peter Murrieta, deputy director of The Sidney Poitier New American Film School at ASU. Courtesy photo

April 11, 2024

Peter Murrieta is celebrating a particularly meaningful achievement: The deputy director of The Sidney Poitier New American Film School at Arizona State University has been named among the Imagen Foundation’s 2024 class of Influential Latinos in Media.

The leading advocacy organization for Latinos in the entertainment industry honors industry executives who do the “business of the business” and strengthen the Latino community’s presence in the industry.

“It means a lot to me because it says that people are seeing the value of what I’m doing at ASU, building our programs in Los Angeles,” Murrieta said.

Murrieta, also the recipient of the Imagen Foundation’s Norman Lear Writer’s Award, is a multiple Emmy Award winner known for series like Netflix’s "Mr. Iglesias" and Disney’s "Wizards of Waverly Place," which notably launched the career of global superstar Selena Gomez. Over the past two decades, Murrieta has produced more than 300 hours of television, including hit shows “One Day at a Time” (Netflix), “Lopez” (TV Land), “Superior Donuts” (CBS), “Cristela” (ABC) and “Primo” (Amazon Freevee), which enjoys a rare 100% freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

But he’s especially proud of being able to create pathways into the industry for young creatives at The Poitier Film School as he continues to grow its presence in LA, the entertainment capital of the world. One school spread across three cities, The Poitier Film School is poised to welcome freshmen in LA for the first time this fall.

“When I started teaching nine years ago, it was to add to my mission of telling stories and helping people from underserved communities get in front of and behind the camera. I’m so happy that we’re doing that,” Murrieta said. 

In addition to Murrieta, who is Mexican American, The Poitier Film School in LA is the proud home of numerous distinguished Latino faculty, including MacArthur Fellows and Borderlands Studios founders Alex Rivera and Cristina Ibarra; Director of ASU's Narrative and Emerging Media program Nonny de la Peña; and "Semester in LA" Director Andres Torres.

Through the school’s Semester in LA program, The Poitier Film School’s students have secured paid internships that have turned into full-time employment at companies like 3 Arts Entertainment. This summer, June 26–28, the film school will host high school students in a three-day summer camp where prospective ASU-in-LA students will learn the basics of filmmaking. 

“Who is this school for? It’s for 18-year-old versions of me,” Murrieta said. “Someone very interested in film or TV or storytelling on a screen, but without a built-in network, or even an idea of what all the jobs and careers are in this business.”

Murrieta, a native of Tucson, Arizona, got a foot in the industry the hard way, wielding a hammer and building sets. It was a difficult road. Now, Murrieta is focused on creating easier pathways into the industry for young outsiders. 

“What if there was a school that not only showed you a path to becoming a director or a writer, but also a path to get work in all the fields and get a sustainable career?” Murrieta said. “ASU is doing that, and I’m so proud to be building that with them, and with our founding director, Cheryl Boone Isaacs.”

Murrieta is also continuing to grow Kaleidoscope, a binational short-film contest and festival that encourages new narratives about the relationship between the U.S. and Mexico. Organized jointly by ASU, the Universidad de Guadalajara and the Mexico Institute at the Wilson Center, Kaleidoscope is in its second year and accepting submissions through Aug. 16.

"It's been energizing working with the University of Guadalajara and the Wilson Institute on this project. It offers a real opportunity for anybody, student or not, to get work out into the world,” Murrieta said. “This year we're celebrating the theme 'community,' which is what we're trying to foster here at The Sidney Poitier New American Film School. Last year, we screened three films at the ASU MIX Center, and we're working to continue bringing these opportunities to our students.”

Murrieta’s Imagen Foundation recognition will be celebrated at an evening reception later this month at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA in Los Angeles. Murrieta will be bringing some film students with him to share the experience. 

“I hope they see that a celebration like this is to be cherished because it doesn’t happen often,” Murrieta said. “A lot of what all of us do is hard work. And it’s nice to be noticed for that work.”

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