Photo by: Hailey Tolleson/Chronicle photo
Leah Leyva poses Oct. 15 on the set of High Stakes at the college’s ATC building. The film is a project in CNM’s film program. Leyva worked on the film as director and co-writer.
By Ashley Shickler
Leah Leyva is a full-time student in CNM’s film program who says she finds time to pursue her passions outside of school.
As a child, Leyva was often surrounded by family members in the music singing and dancing scene, she says.
“When I was a little infant my parents told me that I would sing. My dad was in a few bands, my parents sang in the church choir, my sister is a dancer, and everyone plays the guitar, so I just always did it,” she says.
Leyva earned her film technician certificate from CNM in 2011, but it wasn’t until recently that she came back to receive an associates.
“I recently found out that they are offering an associate degree in film, which they hadn’t offered before, so I thought it would be good idea to go back and get that,” she says.
Leyva says she likes how students get to learn about film theory and do some hands-on film-making.
“I like to direct my own short films and music videos. I always have a project and things I am writing on in my free time,” she says.
Leyva on her own has been writing a science-fiction TV show for the past three years that she hopes eventually will air, and she is working on a feature film idea in the fantasy genre, also on her own. At CNM, she has been working on short films, including High Stakes and a sequel, Luann’s Handmade Leather Goods.
“Taking the film program has been a lot of help in helping me put together my own projects outside of class,” she says.
On top of that, Leyva drives Uber and helps her brother out with his carpet cleaning business, while taking care of seven cats, two dogs and one turtle.
Leyva has also tried out for the show “American Idol.”
“It went good, and I feel good about what I did, even though I didn’t get through. I auditioned twice here in Albuquerque, once in Denver, and once in Salt Lake City. The first time I got through a few rounds, and then the last three times I haven’t gotten through at all,” she says.
Leyva says she hasn’t always been confident when it comes to performing in front of people.
“I have been really trying to battle it. … One of the biggest triumphs for me at the ‘American Idol’ audition was just going and doing it, feeling confident when I was doing it and feeling confident about what I did, because I definitely haven’t always felt that way,” she says.
Leyva has some advice for students who are in the process of attending school while trying to pursue their passion: “Try and stay focused on your dreams and what you need to do to get there, and just enjoy the ride. if you can enjoy the journey rather than thinking about how much you’re going to enjoy the end result, and stay focused on the present, that’s more when you’ll notice the good stuff start to happen.”
Leyva is an acquaintance of the reporter.