Miguel Cruz – United States 2006

Miguel Cruz – United States 2006

Miguel Cruz is an accomplished Spanish filmmaker and a faculty member at the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles. He is the recipient of a 2006 Fulbright grant in filmmaking.

Miguel Cruz’s career exemplifies the lifelong power of the Fulbright experience — and the many bridges it can build. Cruz is a Spanish filmmaker who currently resides in Los Angeles. Since receiving a Fulbright grant to attend the New York Film Academy (NYFA) in LA in 2006, he has remained actively involved in the Fulbright community. In addition to serving as the Vice President of the Fulbright Association’s Greater Los Angeles Chapter, Cruz mentors and supports visiting Fulbrighters through his role as the Director of Fulbright Initiatives and Associate Chair of the Acting Department at NYFA.

At the time of his own Fulbright, Cruz already had years of professional experience in the Spanish television industry under his belt. An accomplished filmmaker with over 200 television credits to his name, he has worked on several successful TV shows, including “CaigaQuienCaiga,” an Emmy-winning late night show, and “Aída,” which was a top-rated show in Spain for several years. He later wrote, produced, and directed the 2012 psychological thriller “Vulnerables,” which opened in both Spain and Latin America, ranking fourth in the Peruvian box-office. The film starred Spanish actress Paula Echevarría and was acquired by the Sundance Channel, TVE, Movistar, and other networks. Cruz has also directed and produced dozens of commercials for international brands, including Sony and Kellogg’s.

The filmmaking grant that brought Cruz to Los Angeles to attend NYFA in 2006 also presented his first opportunity to work in the United States. Reflecting back on his Fulbright year, Cruz notes that the experience was “life-changing” for him, particularly in the practical knowledge of his craft that he gained from professors and colleagues at NYFA. But he also mentions the unique challenges faced by visiting Fulbrighters, who often find it difficult to fully comprehend the scope of their short and intense Fulbright experience, and may be unaware of the avenues that exist for engagement with the Fulbright community outside of their host campus.

Now, through his role as Director of Fulbright Initiatives at NYFA, Cruz is in a position to strengthen the support system in place for these visiting Fulbright students, whose excitement and challenges he understands from experience. Providing this network of support is particularly critical at an institution like NYFA, which has had strong ties to the Fulbright Program for many years. The Academy has hosted over 50 Fulbright students from more than 30 countries and has been recognized as a Fulbright Center of Academic Excellence. Cruz describes his role as a “centralizer” for foreign Fulbrighters, connecting them to each other and to the Fulbright community outside of NYFA and helping them to make the most of their Fulbright experience.

Indeed, Cruz has shown a special dedication to sharing his professional and personal knowledge with the Fulbright community over the past decade. Upon his return to Spain in 2007, Cruz became a member of the Fulbright selection committee through the Spanish Fulbright Commission. When he moved back to Los Angeles in 2015, the first thing he did was become involved with the Greater LA Chapter of the Fulbright Association. “I think every Fulbrighter has that idea of giving back. And you’re connecting with a very interesting group of individuals, so it’s enriching to contribute,” he shared. “When I had to come back to the States and build a network of friends and connections, I wanted to be as close as possible to Fulbright.”

As an LA Chapter board member, Cruz has helped organize several events for area Fulbrighters, including programs connected to film and the arts, and served as the chapter’s Diversity Chair before assuming his current position as Vice President. He also gives generously of his time and talent to the national Fulbright Association, notably as a volunteer producer and video editor for the TEDxFulbright events in Santa Monica (2015) and Washington, D.C. (2017). Through Cruz’s leadership, the Fulbright Association has developed a lasting partnership with the NYFA, which donates equipment and provides technical setup to support the TEDxFulbright program.

When speaking about the impact of the Fulbright Program on his life and career, the confidence that the experience instilled in Cruz stands out as a life-changing force. “At the gateway seminar, when you first arrive in the U.S., you find yourself in a room with 400 extremely talented people who are for sure going to be leaders in their field…it gives you energy, and at least mentally, it gives you the idea that you’re able to try to achieve your higher goals. It made me believe,” he explains.

Reflecting on his current major project — a deal in development for a movie to be produced in Spain through a partnership with FOX here in the U.S. — Cruz remarks that without his Fulbright, he may never have “dared” to move to the U.S., study at an American institution, or pursue professional relationships within the U.S. film industry. That, he says, sums up the ongoing power of international exchange: “Fulbright gives you first, the education and the access, and second, the inspiration.”

—Michelle Dimino

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