Meet Our Scholars
University of Southern California
Film and Television
HBO Point Scholar
Kerri Cecil is a filmmaker who was born in Southern California but raised by her mother in rural Minnesota in an extremely conservative Christian household. She struggled with her gender identity from an early age and when it was discovered by her mother that this was no mere ‘phase’ she was cast out from her home at a very young age. After 20 years of homelessness, survival sex work and drug addiction, which led her to some dark places including jails and prisons, she was finally able to learn how to live a productive life with some help from the Emerging Leaders Academy. Kerri was introduced to the realm of possibility, and she decided then and there to follow her dream of becoming a filmmaker who can empower others and help create social change for the transgender community. Enrolling at Los Angeles City College, she completed their film and television program with honors and with her first short film won her first award. While at LACC, Kerri helped create and lead an on-campus LGBTQIA organization called the Spectrum Alliance club, which now has an annual Trans Awareness week, including a Trans Day of Remembrance. Even though she is the first in her family to graduate from college, her family still ostracizes her because she is transgender. But Kerri has built an amazing life for herself and is now attending USC School of Cinematic Arts where she is pursuing her undergraduate degree.