Marissa Secades

Mentor: Dr. Barbara Mennel
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
"As a second-year English major in the Film and Media Studies track at UF, I have been eagerly searching for various opportunities that would further my academic and professional career. Through the upper-division courses I have enrolled in thus far, I have developed a research interest specifically in early American cinema. I intend on submitting a paper to present during my senior year at the Visions Undergraduate Film Festival and Conference. The research I would complete as part of this program would aid me in constructing said paper and give me the proper research experience I am in need of. My research through this program would also benefit from the collections of rare items and research resources at the UF Popular Culture Collections within the Department of Special and Area Studies, which I have also been interested in becoming involved with and bringing more awareness to. Finally, working on this research project will give me greater opportunities to meet and study alongside other students, professors and professionals in the growing film studies field, which will greatly motivate me to continue my studies towards pursing a career as a film historian at a prestigious university, such as the University of Florida."





Research Interests

  • Representation and Treatment of Women in Cinema
  • Politics in American Cinema
  • Censorship in American Cinemal

Academic Awards

  • Emerging Scholars Program 2015-2016
  • Florida Bright Futures
  • CLAS Dean's List
  • Burger King McLamore Foundation Scholar


  • Florida Players
  • Extreme Dance Company at UF
  • UF Chapter of Golden Key International Honor Society


  • Instructor at Island Theater Company's Summer Theatre Camp
  • UF Office of Admissions Open House
  • Christmas Caroler at the Ronald McDonald House in South Florida

Hobbies and Interests

  • Technical and Performance Theatre
  • Writing
  • Filmmaking
  • Watching Sports

Research Description

Picking Stars: The Creation and Influence of "America's Sweetheart" Mary Pickford
I plan to focus my research project on the materialization of early American star system in cinema, specifically through the rise and fall of one of the earliest and well known female stars, “America’s Sweetheart” Mary Pickford, who appeared in over forty films for D.W. Griffith's American Biograph Company throughout her career. At the height of her career, Pickford toggled with her own strange representation on- and off-screen, as she was best known for her child and child- impersonation roles and was demanded to play these roles well-after her youth. By studying her various films, propaganda and advertisements for these films, and personal letters to and from Pickford, I would like to explore if and how growing societal and moral influences in films during early American cinema may have affected the representation of Pickford as “America’s Sweetheart” and the types of roles available to her.