How Teen Jamie Hinojosa Found Confidence Through Art


Admittedly, Jamie Hinojosa is “different.” So making friends proved to be a challenge for the 14-year-old, who says she always longed to “feel normal” and accepted.

But all of that changed.

Hinojosa triumphed over her fears through her passion for art — and with help from the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Monica. It is that personal story she shared in her short film “I’m Not Afraid to Be Uniquely Me” that won the teen the top national honor in a Digital Arts competition from the Boys & Girls Club of America.

“I was always shunned by everyone and having social anxiety didn’t help either,” Hinojosa says in the stop-motion film’s voiceover. “I was always scared because I thought no one would be my friend.”

Hinojosa reveals in the film that her interests in anime (Japanese animated films and TV shows) and manga (Japanese graphic novels) made her feel like an outsider among her peers.

“Some days I would wonder why I’m still in this bubble of loneliness,” she admits in the award-winning film. “I would question this every day, so I decided I was getting out. This is how I started my quest on finding friends.”

She adds: “You have to remember there are billions of people on Earth, so chances are some of them read manga.”

What she discovered was the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Monica, where she bonded over her passion for animation with one of the organization’s staff mentors. “He cares about every kid and shows it. That’s another reason why the Boys & Girls Club is for everyone. At the Boys & Girls Club, I’m not afraid to be uniquely me.”

Watch her award-winning short film below.