EL PASO, Texas (KTSM)- A 25-year-old El Paso actor got admitted into the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Los Angeles after making the hard decision to leave everything behind and follow his heart.

Joel Sanchez Martinez, better known as Joel Martin, is asking for the community’s help with his GoFundMe campaign to be able to attend the school of his dreams. This is his story.

At the young age of 9 years old, Martin started to feel drawn towards movies and TV shows in a way not everyone gets to experience.

Martin tells KTSM he became passionate about films and the artistic part of them as he began “critiquing” every movie he would watch — from the actors, visuals, soundtracks just to mention a few.

“I discovered my passion for movies at a young age. Since then, the Oscars has been like the Super Bowl to me. I get immense … in every category, and I watch from the red carpet to the very end,” Martin said.

Even knowing he had such a passion for the film industry, Martin didn’t realize that this should be his career until later in life.

Being a “border child,” Martin grew up in Ciudad Juarez with his parents and younger brother. He remembers his childhood years fondly as he has many happy memories.

Martin says things started to change during his teenage years. With his father leaving him and his family, he had to start working to support not only himself but his family as well.

Martin commented things got so complicated he had to pay rent and pay for his schooling, while his mom took care of bills and other expenses to support themselves.

“It’s always been my mom, my younger brother and myself. I took a supportive role when my dad left and I’ve been helping my family all along,” Martin said. “I know my sacrifices will pay off once I get where I want to be. I want to provide for my family as much as I can.”

In 2016, Martin enrolled in the Universidad Autonoma de Ciudad Juarez (UACJ) to pursue a degree in mechatronic engineering; but it wasn’t until 2021 when he realized that he wasn’t really happy with his career choice.

“I had the opportunity to do a short-film titled ‘Water Drop’ with a friend of mine during the pandemic. He made me the protagonist and something clicked. I felt like I belonged in front of the camera,” Martin said. “I realized I wasn’t happy with my career, so I decided to leave it behind.”

Water Drop short-film.

During the first half of 2022, Martin dropped his engineering studies and later joined another university, the Universidad Autonoma de Chihuahua (UACH) to pursue something more suitable for himself, a degree in communication studies.

“I was there for a single semester. At the end of 2022, I decided to drop out and focus on my dreams and follow my heart,” Martin said.

Having a little bit more freedom without having to pay for his studies and having a stable job at a credit union in El Paso, Martin decided to audition for the academy on March 4, 2022. Two weeks later in March 16 he received the good news… he got in.

“I have to be realistic. Even with all my hard work and all my enthusiasm, my income is not enough to pay for my tuition and my housing at the academy, which is why I’m asking for help,” Martin said.

He is currently part of a play in Ciudad Juarez titled “Por Mi Chiquito No.” Its last show is set to be for Sunday, May 14.

“I can tell you that if you help me, I’m going to give back everything to this community once we make it big because I know El Paso and Juarez has talent, so I really want to demonstrate that. Please help me and thank you for the opportunity,” Martin said.

You can help Martin at his GoFundMe here and his Cash App:

Martin’s Cash App