Filmmaker Cecilia Mou’s “Margo”: Immigrant Identity And Womanhood In America.

A secret screenplay arrives as a sterling and resonant piece of work, capturing family tension, juvenile affairs, and the reconciliation of an Asian-American teenager.

Cecilia Mou, a Chinese-American filmmaker based in Los Angeles, is committed to pushing storytelling boundaries reflecting a seamless blend of her Chinese-American heritage and womanhood. The short film recalls “Margo”’s intimate teenage days. But it also draws on her overarching experience and aspirations as an Asian American, navigating through puberty, family, and identity. 

Read through as we delve deeper into Cecilia Mou’s journey and the making of “Margo”.


In Mou’s junior year memory, she wrote a screenplay that struck her as way too personal, and for what seemed like years later, that thinkpiece still remained a mystery to the public eye. That project is called “Margo”, a lifelong document of the generation gap within immigrant households. “Margo might just be the plain insecurity I couldn’t face at sixteen.” Mou expressed.

Looking back, I was completely unaware that I was submitting my script to a platform where it could be shared so openly. I had thought that it was the type of script competition where my story would only be read by judges and faculty, not the entire senior class.

I knew I had to put myself out there somehow, and I just thought that this was the way to do it as a shy freshman. When I ultimately was selected as a Finalist, I remember getting so many calls of congratulations, and not even knowing what they were celebrating! I had no idea that this competition was so serious to the USC community, and once I realized just how much of an honor it was, I was so grateful.

Cecilia Mou, once keeping “Margo” a hidden project, now is inspired to share her story.


As I drew an extrapolation that the themes in this movie had “a realist perception of what the world is like for immigrant families”, Mou questioned the idea of “Margo” as realism, but rather designed to depict the course of things just “the way it is”:

Reflecting on this now, I do think that the lives of 21st-century Chinese immigrants are rarely discussed in the media, and it’s important for me to represent their unique struggles in the form of storytelling. I draw a lot from my own experiences growing up in the San Gabriel Valley, and seeing my parents pull ourselves together from nothing is both inspiring and daunting to live up to.

“Margo”’s portrayal of Asian women is nearly as nuanced as the reality of Asian women. A terrifying 21% to 55% of Asian women in the US suffer from intimate physical and/or sexual violence throughout their lives. What’s even more concerning is that 67% of Asian women choose not to openly discuss their experiences due to fears of harming their reputation, facing social judgments, and isolation from their families and communities.

Therefore, to Mou, “Margo” casts a multifaceted lens on the cultural nuances and challenges within communities of color and families as well, whittling those into meanings and a deeper understanding of the dynamics at play within such communities.

I hope that “Margo”, in the context of a larger community, will serve as a refreshing take on the “tiger mom” and the “rebellious teenager”. I had a hard time grasping this growing up, but I realize as I’m a bit older that both of these archetypes have completely valid points of view, and it is our antagonism of mother and daughter that leads to relationships deteriorating. My mother used to tell me that all of our problems were, at the root, “generational and cultural” because we had both grown up in such different environments. “Margo” is a testament to that. 


Indeed, the creation of this film, “Margo,” is a testament to the passion and drive of its core team— talented Asian individuals, consisting of USC and Chapman students as well as recent graduates who are independently producing this endeavor. Even though her team met no obstacles regarding their cultural identities, what’s intriguing is how their awareness of being underrepresented within the film industry came as a driving force behind their unwavering determination:

I will say though, all of us being underrepresented in the film industry has really fueled our motivation to make this project a reality. We all grew up watching stories told from a white, male, perspective, and creating “Margo” is just one step forward in changing that narrative.

Cecilia Mou (R) and Sea Gira (L), the short film’s producer. They have built a strong filmmaking connection through co-producing and co-directing high-budget editorial multimedia projects

It is through these trajectories that “Margo”, despite its poignant themes, becomes a defining work, not only for Mou but also for others on her team. This represents not merely a project but also a kernel of their growth and career prospects.  

After “Margo” was shortlisted, my now-creative producer Liya Yang was the first to call me about potentially attaching herself to my script. After the competition was over and I felt ready to take on such a project myself, she was one of the very first people I called. 

The rest of my team all come from different backgrounds within the USC community, and we have met through mutuals, being in class, and just from being friends! I pitched them the idea and the script, and I’m still so touched by how much they resonated with the story. One by one, we came together. 

I’m most dedicated to my team to ensure that everyone takes away something valuable from this project and really learns something new. We’re all students, and producing and making a project like this is not easy, I myself am constantly discovering new lessons about producing, writing, directing, and more. I really am working to create an environment where my team can choose what they’re passionate about learning and really immerse themselves inside of it.


“My personal goal is to make something that I am truly proud of at the end of the day, as well as for the rest of my team. As an independent filmmaker making a short film, I’m using this as a learning experience to elevate my own skills as well as the people around me. 

If I can make a memorable, amazing experience for myself and all of our supporters, it will be worth it.”

The team is filled with strong confidence that “Margo” will become a ray of light for those facing their own struggles. However, the road to achieving this vision is not without its challenges. Creating a film that captures the essence of such a profound script requires resources, dedication, and support. If you wish to donate, feel free to reach out to their social media links below.

With the hope of bringing “Margo”’s story to audiences around the world, Mou, on behalf of her team, shares her heartfelt gratitude to each and every individual who chooses to support the cause. 

“Margo” short film, IG: @margoshortfilm

Cecilia Mou, Writer and Director , IG: @ceceish

Sea Gira, Producer, IG: @sea_gira