A host since the inception of PCC One News in a Minute, the producer/director is working on a third certificate after already earning two in film and television.
Charismatic and friendly, she brightens a room when she enters with her smile and instant calm and ease. A PCC student since 2007, Hajjali chose PCC at the urging of her brother who spoke well of the programs and because they live very close by.
As student worker, she is a PCC One producer and shoots and edits PCC education videos while also working as an editor for the talk show Every Way Woman that airs in San Diego. With one feature film already under her belt as producer, as well as several award-winning shorts, Hajjali is in the throngs of making two feature films outside of PCC.
“She’s extremely charismatic and people want to be around her,” said David Steiman, a media production specialist for Lancer Lens and producer for PCC One. “She cuts loose and she’s awesome. She’s brave. She’s willing to do anything. [As host] she gets comedy. She gets delivery. She’s it. She’s the whole package.”
Straight from charter school Options for Youth High School in 2007, she had a two-month break and jumped right into college.
“She’s just so darned impressive for a woman of her young years,” said Gina Harris, a Lancer Lens engineer who works regularly with Hajjali. “She does it all. She’s very busy. She’s organized and she stays on point.”
Hajjali spoke fondly of the early encouragement she received from film professor Stana Milanovich in a make-or-break moment. Still not knowing what major she wished to pursue at PCC after having failed her film final, Milanovich pushed Hajjali to move forward.
“’I see potential in you,” Hajjali said of Milanovich. “I think you can do really good at this. So why don’t I give you a second chance.”
“She really did help me out,” Hajjali added. “She is this first person to encourage me in this field.”
Hajjali soon found herself fascinated and eager to learn everything in film and television that PCC had to offer through the technical class, eventually moving on to the production classes where she found her niche. With two certificates in film and television completed, she is pursuing the internship portion for her remaining certificate in producing/directing.
“You get to be the producer, director, and [Assistant Director],” she said. “You create a project and you have students crew for you.”
It was here that she went on to independently produce the short films “Time and Home,” which won first place in the 72 Hour Films competitions in 2013 and 2014. Hajjali had met the film’s director and fellow PCC student Moses Navarro on Facebook, where the two clicked and continue working together outside of PCC.
“Him and a bunch of other people from those [film] classes, we kind of created this group of filmmakers. And we are kind of a family,” said Hajjali.
Gravitating toward producing independent films and funding for her projects goes beyond the help of family and friends. She uses crowd funding sites and investment proposals and a clip of the project scene to show investors and family members.
“The best route we’ve taken was Kickstarter or Indie Go Go or Go Fund Me,” she said. “And we’ve always reached our goal, which is good.”
The film Lost Angelas exceeded its goal, raising more than $4,600 with over 65 backers through crowd-funding. And as both director and producer on the documentary project “Sibling Warrior: Healing My Brother’s Autism,” the struggle to raise funds continues. But Hajjali and the film’s supporters move forward using social networking fueled with the hope to further raise awareness on autism and treatment.
Networking in general has been key during production shooting as well. With Lost Angelas, the trailer clip was shot throughout Los Angeles, Alhambra, Temecula, and Las Vegas, with most locations secured through the director’s contacts at the diner where he works and at a lead actress’ home as well.
Hajjali has much in mind for the future, which not only includes producing others’ projects but starting her own production company and studio as well.
“I want to do films first, then maybe move into television owning my own studio like PCC One has,” she said. Something small where we can create maybe a talk show or a television shows and sell that to different networks,” said Hajjali.
With this being the last semester for Hajjali at PCC, Steiman and the PCC One staff reflected on highlights of Laila’s time as host.
“I think when we dressed her up as a leprechaun, that was one of my highlights!” said Steiman of a St. Patrick’s Day episode with Hajjali as “Laila O’Hajjali” and sporting an Irish accent.
Hajjali’s exit, as with any other student who moves on to bigger and better things, is both bittersweet and hopeful.
“Don’t think we’re not all broken up by it,” said Steiman. “But if she keeps doing what’s she’s doing, she will be successful. She’s tenacious.”