Woman Crush Wednesday: Dani Ruiz

Her Campus Hofstra has some badass women, so let's meet them!

Up this week, we have Dani Ruiz!

Major: Film 

Minor: Drama

Hometown: Dallas, Texas

Member Since: September 2018

 

Why did you join Her Campus?

“So, I actually found out about Her Campus in the spring of my freshman year, but I was really scared of my writing being judged. And then, I went into last semester being like 'I need to do things,' and I knew I had a good chance of getting into Her Campus because I had become more confident in my writing abilities.”

What is your favorite part about being involved in Her Campus?

“From the very beginning, I was scared everyone was going to already know each other and I was going to be left out. But the second I walked into that room, both Maddie and Madie were very welcoming. Everyone supports each other so much.”

What is your favorite article you have written for Her Campus?

“My favorite article is easily 'What is wrong with being a basic bitch?' It was an idea that I pitched to Maddie and she was really excited about it. It has to do with the idea that anything that girls -- especially teenage girls and young adults -- find interesting or get excited about gets made fun of by society because … I don’t know ... we aren’t supposed to like things?  It’s about how it’s okay to like things, even if it will get you labeled as basic or put you into a category. If it's what you like, there is nothing wrong with that and you should embrace your passions.”

What else are you involved in on Campus?

“I am involved with WRHU with the Screening Room and I am engineering for one of the volunteer community shows on the weekends. I knew I definitely wanted to be involved in more than just engineering and wanted to be a part of one of the specialty shows. Because I am a film major, I feel like it's something that I have enough knowledge to talk about confidently. I am also involved in Zeta Phi Eta. I pledged and rushed last semester, and that took up a lot of my semester just because it was a very rigorous process.  I crew for some of the HEAT shows every once in a while, and do other little things here and there throughout the School of Comm. I’ve helped friends with their films and stuff.  Last semester I was the producer for two of my friends' films because I’m not fully knowledgeable about how to work the equipment, but I’m very good at sticking to a schedule and making sure that everyone knows where they are supposed to be and what they are supposed to be doing. By getting these types of opportunities, I have found it’s something that I’ve enjoyed and that it is something I would like to keep doing. Being involved has made me feel so much more confident, especially talking to other film majors who are also not always sure of themselves because it's not something you grow out of -- it's something that is always there. I have found so much more confidence in myself and in my abilities because I spent a lot of last year not being involved in anything and even questioning what I want to do with my life."

What is your favorite segment that you have talked about on the Screening Room?

“I am really big into women in film, so when we discussed Delta editing the film Book Smart. I had a lot to say about them removing the lesbian love scene.  A lot of minority things in film are overshadowed or censored, and that is something that I am very passionate about because I want to make sure everyone is being represented.  It was a film that was starring and directed by women and there was so much controversy over something that didn’t need to be there.”

Why did you want to add Drama as your minor?

“I have a huge love for Broadway and getting to be so close was a big thing. I also knew that I wanted to do the background side of it. It was sort of the same thing with Drama as I felt with film, where I didn’t have any experience, so I was afraid of feeling left out. But, I have friends who are already in the Drama department, so I already feel more comfortable with it. I really enjoy how everyone is there to build everyone up -- like when cast lists go up, everyone is so excited for everyone else.”

Do you have a favorite Broadway Show?

“My favorite musical is In the Heights and it is coming out with a movie this summer, and when the trailer came out, I cried it because it looks so good. I love Lin Manuel Miranda -- he is my idol. That show did so much for Latina representation on Broadway, and that’s what I strive to do. We aren’t just drug dealers and things like that -- we are people with lives. In the Heights is about so many important things that I relate to, especially like coming here and trying to be something like I was back home and not forgetting who you are and where you came from.”

Since you are from Texas, why did you choose to come to Hofstra?

“So, I don’t have any experience in film or drama, but I’ve known that’s what I wanted to study and if that was something I was going to take a leap on, then I knew I had to go to New York. My parents were very understandably unsure about it. My sister goes to school in Austin, which is three hours away, and most of my family is still in Texas. My aunt who moved out to LA is our only immediate family not in Texas, so they were very scared about me being so far away from everyone. We did one of the admitted student days here and I think having them see that this is a real campus and I would still get a college experience with amazing opportunities, they were more comfortable with it. My mom still has some issues with me being so far, but that’s just because I was five feet away from her for 18 years and now I’m 1,500 miles away.”

How have you seen yourself grow because you're so far away from home?

“Something I had to learn when I got off the plane to move in was I am now by myself. Now it is up to me to make friends and go out and get these experiences now that they are there. I have to go get them, they don’t just come to me all the time. So, that’s definitely something I had to learn. I have to put myself out there more because there isn’t anyone to fall back on. I didn’t come here knowing anyone. Now, I have to find people and I have to make friends and I have to put myself out there. It was a big thing for me and I feel like in the year and a half that I have been here, even my family back home have said I am so much more confident in myself. I came here thinking this is what I want to do, but also I’m not sure because I don’t really know anything. Now am I so much more okay with the knowledge that I do have and that I don’t have because I am so much more comfortable asking about what I don’t know. I’m here to learn these things, to get these experiences, and to fail and to lose, but also to win, and it has really been a really good experience so far.”

What is something that Texas has that Long Island/New York is missing out on?

“The food. Like, my grandmother makes homemade tamales and things like that. Just home cooking. And the things that were in my neighborhood -- like, you can get breakfast tacos in the morning and things like that that were very niche to our neighborhood that you can’t get here. Good barbeque is nowhere to be found around here -- I’m really upset about that. It’s really cliche, but it’s true. Something I also always miss is the Dallas skyline because we have so many lights and designs that change. I miss being able to lookout. In Dallas, I am kind of in the suburbs, so I can be in the middle of the city if I want to be, but I can also go home and not have to deal with all of that. I could feel like I was a part of that city, whereas here New York City still feels really far away.” 

What is the biggest misconception about people from Texas/Dallas?

“This isn’t a misconception, but I don’t have an accent and people think that is weird. We aren’t all rodeos and 'yee-haw' -- I say it ironically. I don’t live on a ranch -- people honestly think all of Texas is a ranch. I live in a city I promise. We drive cars -- I don’t ride a horse to school. I have ridden horses, but I don’t live with one.”      

Favorite film genre to watch?

“Any coming-of-age film. Especially more recently -- like, Ladybird was my favorite film of 2018, especially because I related to it so much. They have become so much more diverse. It's no longer just 'skinny white boy learns to be loved by girls,' and I think it's so important to see how everyone learns to find themselves in the world they are put into.” 

Favorite genre of film to make?

“I really like films that aren’t linear. In my one film that I’ve made, I have a lot of flashbacks to make things make more sense and to add context. I love jumping between things and showing how things actually happen, versus how they happen to somebody personally.” 

What is the best class you have taken?

“Intro to Film Production here at Hofstra that I took with George Nicholas. My friends were always like, 'You should stick with film. You are going to be good at it. It's going to be fine,' but he was the first professor to say, "If I didn’t think you could do it, I would tell you.' When we did our final production, he was like, 'You should do everything by yourself just to see if you do enjoy it and see what parts you can do by yourself,' so that’s what I did. I had two actors, I shot it and I edited it with a little help from my friend, Jess, but most of it was just me and a camera trying to figure out how to do this. I was really proud of how it came out, but I was also mad because I was like, ‘This could have been better if I had done this or if I had done that.' He said to me, ‘Because you are passionate about what could be better and want to fix it, that means you have a drive for this.' That was the first class that cemented that I can do this and I should see it through.”

Have you had a teacher that has greatly influenced you?

“When I was in high school, I was a part of my High School’s radio station. I was a host and when I was a senior. I was the director. I was in charge of running it all because it was student-run, written and recorded. Our advisor for that, while we butted heads a lot, taught me so much about how to be more professional at a young age and made us understand what it takes to be taken seriously in that kind of industry. Everyone on the show was a minority in some way, and she was very adamant about how people will try to keep you quiet for so long, so you have to have the voice that you have in the best way possible. While I was there, I was frustrated and a lot of it was hard, but it made me so much stronger in my ability to have a voice and to not be afraid of what anyone else has to say about it.”

What is something you try to teach others?

“I want people to know it's ok to not be ok. I know that is a cliché, but it's ok to reach out when you need to, but it's also ok to be by yourself if that's what you need to do. I just want everyone to know they are important and they are loved and that they can do what they need to do whatever is best for them at that moment, whatever that may mean, and there will always be people supporting you whether they are right in front of you or not.” 

Do you have any pet peeves?

“Ignorance. And I understand that not everyone can know everything about everything because you can not, but outwardly being discriminatory and things like that, like using slurs you shouldn’t and you know you shouldn’t, and things that you know you shouldn’t say but you do anyway because you think you can, it pisses me off a lot and, obviously, you should care about it and it's okay if you aren’t like I am, fighting for these rights, but just, like, don’t be mean to people?” 

Speaking of pets, and animals, who is your spirit animal?

“An armadillo. I don’t remember the context, but I once described myself as an armadillo in New York City, and now that’s just who I am just because it's the state of Texas, but also, like, armadillos are really small, but also whenever they feel attacked or threatened, they make themselves really big and I feel like I do that because I try to make myself seem powerful. It just works on many different levels.”