November 2, 2012

Students “Graced” by Film Awards

Two Students Honored by the Princess Grace Foundation

During her lifetime, Princess Grace of Monaco was committed to helping emerging artists realize their career goals. This year, two USC School of Cinematic Arts students, Chao Thao and Javier Barboza, joined the ranks of Princess Grace Foundation Award Winners and will continue her legacy of supporting young artists.

Chao Thao (Center) Being presented the Princess Grace Award by Gina Davis

Thao, a production division student at SCA, submitted a documentary which is a profile of the Hmong culture she was raised in, which is entering a critical transition period as a culture.

“This documentary is an exploration into my Hmong culture. I hope to provide an opportunity for the Hmong people in the culture to tell their own stories in their own voice,” said Thao. “The Hmong culture is relatively new in the US. We’ve only been here for about forty years. As a culture, we are following in the steps of every culture before us. We have one generation that is very traditional and the next generation that is more American. I feel that there’s a constant struggle between these two ways of life. Trying to create a balance between being Hmong and American is the conflict that I personally struggle with.”

Barboza, an animation student at the School, won with a project that deals with human trafficking from Latin America. He stated, “It’s about the techniques that coyotes use to get people over the border. You talk to immigrants from other cultures and they come to America on boats or planes or other legitimate means - or even as refugees - and I wanted to focus on how people in Latin America assimilate when they come to America through other means. With animation, I could show how it’s done instead of just explaining it.”

The Princess Grace Foundation-USA is dedicated to identifying and assisting emerging talent in theater, dance and film by awarding grants in the form of scholarships, apprenticeships and fellowships.

“It’s an amazing privilege to have received the 2012 Princess Grace Award ,” continued Thao. “I feel so incredibly honored to be a part of this group of artists. It’s a wonderful recognition for us as emerging artists. I come from a community where people don’t necessarily know what it means to be a filmmaker so there’s not a lot of support there. So it’s a wonderful feeling to be a part of the Princess Grace Foundation and to also be a part of the USC – SCA community. It truly feels like I have someone on the sidelines cheering me on."

For more information on the Princess Grace Foundation, please visit: