Psychology professor wins award for her anti-bias research films

One faculty member each year is awarded the Exceptional Creative Accomplishments Faculty Award, which is given to the contestants who have exceptional creativity in film, music, dance, art, theater production or writing. The award can also carry a prize of $1,200.

The winner this year was psychology professor Luciana Lagana.

”I was very happy that I won this award because it is usually an award that goes to the art department,” said Luciana.

The beginning

Lagana said her father was her manager for four years and had her perform in dancing, singing and a modeling contest.

When she began going school and dealt with her father’s death at the age of six, there was a halt on performing since her father was a primary reason for attending the contest. However, her mother, a French language and literal professor, told Lagana she only had one regret in life which was that she let the theater life go even though she loved it. Lagana said it was her mother’s words that convinced her to do performing on the side.

“I kind of remember when I was a kid performing, but it’s one of those this that goes way, so I was like I better not make my mom’s mistake,” Luciana said.

Lagana said in her late teens she joined a touring theatrical company that trained her for two years and gave her small roles like a cleaner or the woman that would break up the rich husband form his wife.

“One of my fondest memories is that there was 7,000 people in this very large light theater because they had a contract with the high school,” said Luciana. “Everybody from the high school went to the play, and here I am on the stage, and there was one scene that was like ‘get out of here you want to take my husband, ’ and the lady was coming after me. Everybody was laughing at me, 1000s of people about my performance; I was like I think I got this acing thing down.”

Filming

Lagana said in 2011 while studying acting, she was cast in independent films, made friends with some minority filmmakers and won film festival awards that inspired her to take classes in producing films.

Lagana began taking Nate Thomas, head of the film production option, in the spring of 2013. Thomas said that it is admirable that Lagana had a willingness to learn and have students work with her on her outside projects.

“One of the things that are impressive is that I mean she has a doctorate, wanting to learn and she a go-getter has a possible attitude,” Thomas said.

Thomas said that Lagana is also a perfect example of how to use film and media for a way to better society.

“Her videos and the product she produces is really important because it’s really socially aware,” Thomas said. “It’s not there for entertainment purpose her is really there to change behaviors to cause people to think.”

The class inspired her to make feature films and was also pushed by her students to try to create education films that would include her research and filmmaking together, said Luciana.

In 2014, she produced, along with the help of students some from UCLA out of pocket, the “Dr. Luciana show: Aging and Falling” that won film festival awards. The talk show was that would explain steps that older adults could take to avoid life-threatening falls.

Experiments

Lagana said during her experimental studies she would have one control group watch a nature film then they would test, before and after the film, how they felt about LGQB and older adults. In the experimental group, they did the same testing the only differences; they would be shown an LGQB or the “Understanding Pain in Older Age” film they produce and see if there is an improve empathy towards ether group. Understanding Pain in Older Age is a film that shows the pain that older adults go through daily.

“I do have to report that I am very happy to say that this year we got our first preview article published back using the film ‘Understanding Pain in Older Age’ we improved empathy,” said Lagana, including that it inspired her to do more films like them.

Ovsanna Balien, first-year clinical graduate student, helps Lagana with her research looks forward to seeing how those in the experiments react to the videos.

“It’s beneficial to see people’s reactions,” said Balien. “It’s like there prospected has changed.”

Future

Lagana said in the future she plans to do films on students that are successful, non-white CSUN student that motivate other students and anti-racist movies.

“We’re expanding to different subjects and our main goal, I believe, is to help oppressed minorities,” said Balien. “Shed light into what they go through to other people that don’t realize them, always judging them.”