Faces of UCSB: Irie Aburto

Irie Aburto at Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Photo courtesy of Cassidy Petroccione.

Cassidy Petroccione

Senior Staff

The Bottom Line (TBL) had the privilege of sitting down with UC Santa Barbara (UCSB) fourth-year film & media studies major Irie Abruto, who holds a pivotal position on the executive board for the on-campus club, Women in Media (WIM). In this exclusive interview, Abruto delves into her experience as a film major at UCSB, her involvement with WIM, and the challenges and rewards of pursuing a career in film. 


TBL: What is Women in Media? 

ABRUTO: Women in Media is an organization on campus focused on empowering and educating students interested in women’s roles in the entertainment and media industry. Our goal is to prepare the next generation of women media-makers as they enter the professional world. 

TBL: What is your position within WIM and what do you do?

ABRUTO: I am on the executive board as the outreach lead. I am in charge of guiding the team of members to help reach out to people for our annual spring conference to secure panelists. Our conference consists of different seminars and panels. So, we have women from across the entertainment industry come and speak with us. We have a variety of panelists ranging from film company executives to PR, marketing, and screenwriters. This year we are having our first musical panel for musicians, which is really cool. We also have a leading lady panel, and we feature one woman to come speak with us who has made significant contributions in the role of media. 

It is nice to get to meet women from across the industry from different walks of life and backgrounds because it gives good perspective and insight. They understand what it is like being a woman in this field. It is very empowering. A lot of times, we get imposter syndrome, and we don’t know how to navigate rules that were built for men. 

Irie Aburto at WIM Event. Photo courtesy of Cassidy Petroccione.

TBL: Do you have weekly meetings?

ABRUTO: We have club events: trivia nights or pizza socials. Also, there are board meetings where we meet with our committee and brainstorm ideas about the conference coming up and check in with everyone. The conference is a big networking opportunity to make connections with internships, jobs, and contracts. 

TBL: Why did you major in film?

ABRUTO: I majored in film because I always have been interested in the creative aspects of what goes into making something. I always loved the production side of things, and I am passionate about music. So, I know I want to go into the music video field with directing. I study film because I want to get a more hands-on experience and to understand the theoretical side to know why a certain thing functions in a film to capture different creative choices. 

TBL: What has been the coolest experience with being a part of Women in Media?

ABRUTO: The people I meet create the coolest experience because all the members are super welcoming and I get to meet new people at every conference to connect. After every panel, the panelist talks to us and wants to build real connections; I met up with one of the panelists last year in New York for coffee. 

TBL: How was your experience working at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF)? 

ABRUTO: SBIFF was so much fun! I was on the production team, so it was lots of hands-on experience: running the show and behind the scenes. I was a part of the only internship that got to interact with the talent. I remember being backstage with Mark Ruffalo and I was just mind blown. It was fun to dive more into the logistics side of how panels run professionally, not just with WIM, but how an international film festival is a global thing. So, it is like what I do for WIM, but on a more professional level. 

TBL: What was the hardest part of SBIFF?

ABRUTO: The hardest part is being able to multitask, because in a position like that, you need to always have your ear and your eyes out. You need to be searching for what needs to be done and they also might be talking to you at the same time. So, you have to multitask different challenges, running around for different pickups and last-minute changes. You need to be very alert.

TBL: What is your favorite movie?

ABURTO: My favorite movie is “Ratatouille” because it is a children’s animation; it is captivating and I think it goes so much deeper in the meaning. I feel like I relate to it a lot because there is this main character who no one really believes in, but has such strong ambitions, even though his world is against him and his family. But he still fights for his dreams no matter what, and likes being in his industry. I had different family members that would ask me, “Why are you pursuing film, you are going to be broke.” The world says that being a woman of color is harder for you, but I had these ambitions that I wanted to chase no matter what backlash or critiques. At the end of the movie, it does not have the stereotypical happy ending; it has his dream restaurant get shut down, but instead, he has his own restaurant. So, I think that goes to show the idea that not everything will work out the way you want or envision, but it will always work out how it is meant to. The movie is so much deeper than people give it credit for, so I relate to it a lot. A great quote in that movie is: “Not everyone can be a great cook, but a great cook can come from anywhere.” I love this quote because you might not be the next Steven Spielberg, but life has so many crazy paths and you never know. 

TBL: Do you have any advice for students who want to pursue a degree in film?

ABRUTO: I would say not to compare yourself because it is so easy in this field to compare yourself to other people. Truly, everyone has their own journey and their own pace, and I feel it is an easy thing to compare. But it is not always a competition, and instead of seeing it as a competition, we should just help each other. A lot of people are willing to help you, and you should stick with the people that are willing to guide and navigate you to where you need to be. So, just take it at your own pace and do not give up. It is very easy to be discouraged and you will get so much rejection. That is part of the major and job, but I always look at rejection as redirection because you are always going to get where you need to at the end. 

TBL: Thank you Irie for joining us today!

If anyone is interested in Women in Media, check out and follow their instagram (@wimucsb) for more information about their club meetings and events.


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