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UCLA students develop gay 'Romeo and Julio' short film to teach inclusivity

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Several UCLA graduate students have adapted William Shakespeare's classic "Romeo and Juliet" and put a brand-new "inclusive" spin on it. The end result is a short film called "Romeo and Julio" — a gay, Latino love story.

In an article published Tuesday by the Daily Bruin, Oscar Emmanuel Fabela — the project's developer, co-producer, and star — discussed his inspiration behind the film, as well as his hopes for the production.

What do we know about the project?

  • "Romeo and Julio" tells the story of two star-crossed lovers, Romeo — a white man — and Julio — a Latino man.
  • Fabela said he was inspired by "Hamilton: An American Musical."
  • Fabela, who is gay and Hispanic, said that his own personal experiences helped cultivate some of the concept for "Romeo and Julio."
  • "This story, being put through an immigrant, gay lens, still works," Fabela said. "We can use this over 400-year-old text and change nothing but the pronouns and it’s still relevant."
  • Fabela, who plays Julio, added that he was able to draw on his own fears of his Mexican family being banished from America to bolster the realism in his performance.
  • He noted that he cried real tears in the film: "I lost it, because I know what it’s like to have that fear that one day your family will be just gone."
  • Fabela said that "Romeo and Julio" is set in modern times but, like Baz Luhrmann's "Romeo + Juliet" (1996), is spoken in Shakespearean English.
  • "That’s the question of the film," Fabela said of the concept. "Why are they not allowed to be together? That’s what I want people to walk away with. It’s pointless hate and marginalization that’s keeping their love apart, but they’re willing to fight through anything to be together."
  • "If some little gay Mexican immigrant sees our film and sees that it was  co-produced, directed and shot by a Mexican-American woman with the help of a little gay Mexican immigrant … I think we’ve done our job," Fabela added.
  • According to the Daily Bruin, the film will debut on a yet-to-be-announced date later this quarter.
One last thing…
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