Latino filmmaker, Jesus Celaya wins McDonald’s short film contest

Jesus Celaya

McDonald’s USA recently announced Jesus Celaya, an emerging Latino filmmaker from southern California, as the grand prize winner of its first-ever Spotlight Dorado short film contest, setting the stage for a bright career ahead with new industry connections and widespread exposure

His Lucha Noir film rose to the top among voters nationwide, following a close rally between finalists Jazmin Aguilar’s Kid Ugly and Lorena Russi’s A History of Sitting in Waiting Rooms (Or Whatever Longer Title You Prefer).

“Spotlight Dorado underscores the Golden Arches long-standing commitment to uplift and celebrate the Hispanic community through initiatives that fuel Latino pride and representation,” said Jeff Martinez, Owner/Operator and McDonald’s Hispanic Marketing Committee Franchise Lead. “Through this program, we aim to bolster the careers of up-and-coming Latino creatives; and we’re thrilled to offer Jesus a year-long opportunity to work with McDonald’s on creative initiatives and campaigns during 2023.”

Acclaimed actress, director, producer, representation advocate and program ambassador Stephanie Beatriz made the announcement on behalf of McDonald’s in December at a Spotlight Dorado screening at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, an institution dedicated to the history, science, and cultural impact of the film industry. Other leading voices for Latino representation in Hollywood were also in attendance, including actress and program mentor Danay Garcia, and actress and entrepreneur, Julissa Calderon.


“Being named the winner of McDonald’s first-ever short film contest is an honor and an invaluable stepping stone in my career,” said Jesus Celaya, filmmaker and McDonald’s Spotlight Dorado winner. “The Golden Arches gave me this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bring my story to life, as well as gain new experiences, exposure and connections with several heavy hitters in the film and entertainment industry.”


Jesus Celaya is a Mexican American writer and director who grew up between Washington State and the border state Sonora, Mexico. He studied film at the Brooks Institute in L.A. and, since then, has won various awards, including a Latinx Fellowship at the 2020 Screenwriters and Directors Labs.

Similar to his multicultural upbringing, Jesus was inspired by classic American comics and Mexico’s rich history of lucha libre wrestling culture. Lucha Noir is a noir piece that features a luchador and an otherworldly villain dueling it out in an epic battle driven by classic Luchador films, while exploring the dichotomy between good and evil.

Official Trailer: Lucha Noir by Jesus Celaya

Congratulations to Latino writer/director, Jesus Celaya for Lucha Noir, the winner of the 2022 McDonald’s Spotlight Dorado short film contest!


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Next year, McDonald’s USA will once again welcome talented filmmakers to the second edition of the Spotlight Dorado short film contest. An exciting new panel of industry partners and experts will be announced in Spring of 2023, along with new opportunities to bring value for talented Latino filmmaking contestants.

While the Spotlight Dorado short film contest is the first initiative under the multi-year platform, efforts are currently in development to recognize and empower Latino talent in other fields. More details are soon to come!

To learn more about Spotlight Dorado, visit