JESSE (JESUS) AYALA
Jesse (Jesus) Ayala is an award-winning American film director known for his work in immersive and virtual reality storytelling at Fovrth Studios. His work has premiered at Cannes NEXT, Tribeca Film Festival, SxSW Film Festival, Sheffield DocFest, and The American Film Institute Doc Fest, with screenings at SCAD Future Fest and more.
Ayala is a principal member at Fovrth Studios, a New York City based studio specializing in new media and immersive nonfiction storytelling and production.
Ayala is a 2016 creative fellow at The Future of Storytelling (FoST) for Good and a 2018 filmmaker in the Facebook/Oculus Creators Lab; VR for Good. His work addresses social and political issues and how they shape human experiences in the world around us, such as democracy and revolution (Year Of The Youth), LGBTQ+ equality and transgender visibility (Authentically Us Series), and American and immigrant identities (#ImmigrantVoices) in partnership with Global Citizen. His work and his perspectives has been showcased globally at conferences and film festivals including Sheffield DocFest, Cannes NEXT, AWE, XR for Change, and more.
An alum of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the American University in Cairo, Egypt. In 2011 he embedded in the Arab Spring as a independent photojournalist in 2011. His fieldwork in the region brought him to the front lines of political and social change across the region. During this period Ayala contributed to regional and international publications including Al Jazeera, Mic, and The Jerusalem Post. Ayala was the director behind Year of the Youth, a docu-series showcasing youth influence on and participation in the developing revolutionary movements across the Arab world as part of the Arab Spring.
Ayala’s faith in the power of storytelling to stir empathy and action stems from his fieldwork positions for the Clinton Global Initiative with HIV/AIDS interventions, the United Nations in crisis zones in Gaza and Lebanon, and Teach for America as corps member in urban-low income New Orleans. In 2012 Ayala founded Modavanti, social impact/sustainable lifestyle company. Modavanti under Ayala’s creative leadership earned honors from NBC News, Microsoft, InStyle, and The Huffington Post for their mission driven and technological approaches in the new economy.
Ayala’s most recent project, Authentically Us: Voices from the Transgender Community is an award-winning virtual reality series that follows three transgender Americans, produced in partnership with Oculus and Pride Foundation. Ayala is currently working on projects touching themes including Syrian refugee technologists, women entrepreneurs, and gun violence and propaganda in the United States.
Ayala currently resides in New York City and Cambridge Massachusetts with his husband I. Glenn Cohen.