“We have to change the storytellers in order to change the stories.” – Reese Witherspoon

Ayusha Ayalur wants to balance the gender equation in Hollywood, where less than 20 percent of creators are women.1

Last summer, Ayalur, 18, was part of AT&T’s first-ever Hello Sunshine Filmmaker Lab, an all-girl camp produced by Fresh Films that had one goal: Make that statistic history.

Ayalur joined 20 other teenage girls to spend 8 days in Los Angeles filming content under the guidance of mentors and professional creators. These included individuals from AT&T and Hello Sunshine, Reese Witherspoon's media company founded to tell original stories that celebrate powerful female women.

The Filmmaker Lab documentary aired publicly for the first time Monday, Nov. 5, on YouTube. You can also catch it on DIRECTV, DIRECTV NOW and U-Verse On Demand in the coming weeks.

For Ayalur, who is from Gurnee, Illinois and currently attending the University of Illinois, the Filmmaker Lab was her first opportunity to explore her love of film.

"I’ve always had a huge passion for film and movies, and have always had that dream of somehow getting involved in the industry,” she said.

Along their journey, Ayalur and her fellow aspiring filmmakers had the opportunity to meet with some of the most powerful names in Hollywood.

Fostering up-and-coming filmmakers and content creators is paramount at AT&T.

“It’s so important for us to invest in the next generation of media makers,” said Charlene Lake, AT&T’s senior vice president of Corporate Social Responsibility and chief sustainability officer.

Ayalur didn’t skip a beat when asked what advice she would give to someone considering the program.

“You were accepted for a reason,” she said. “I was hesitant because I didn't know if I had the technical skills to hold my own during the program, but I ended up learning so much from some of the most supportive, smart, and caring people I've ever met.

“Go in with confidence, be willing to learn from anyone and everyone, and have fun!”