Life behind the Lens: GW Alumnus Puts Heart into Films

Xavier Manrique, B.B.A. ’05, directed “Who Invited Charlie?,” which debuts on Feb. 3.

February 1, 2023

Xavier Manrique

Xavier Manrique, B.B.A. ’05, directed and produced the film "Who Invited Charlie?"

It’s March 2020. The coronavirus pandemic is sweeping America, and you escape the confines of Manhattan to quarantine with your wife and kid in the Hamptons. It’s the perfect plan…until your old college roommate shows up and bursts your bubble, causing chaos, charming your family and spilling all your secrets in the process.

That’s the premise of “Who Invited Charlie?,” a new feature film directed and produced by Xavier Manrique, B.B.A. ’05, and inspired, in part, by someone he knew during his time at George Washington University.

“I have a friend that I met at GW who was the crazy guy who never slept, just partied, and yet somehow aced every class. And I would just wonder, ‘How did I just sit in Gelman for the last eight hours and get a worse grade than you?’ And that’s who Charlie is,” he said with a laugh.

“I mean we all have one of those guys, right?” he continued. “So just imagine that guy crashing your quarantine when your family’s already on the brink of collapse. But at the end of it all, he actually pieces you back together.”

It’s those types of character-driven, heart-warming stories that Manrique loves to direct, stories that remind him of the John Hughes movies he grew up watching long before he ever thought about foraying into the film industry.

“I actually went to GW for marketing and finance because I loved photography growing up and I thought I needed to understand the business side of it,” he explained.

After graduation, Manrique’s passion for photography brought him back to his hometown of Miami where he interned at MTV shooting music video stills. He then quickly moved out to Los Angeles to begin directing music videos and, eventually, feature films.

“I was shocked by how much marketing is needed to release a film, but because of what I learned at GW, I was prepared,” he said. “It was definitely well worth it.”

Although “Who Invited Charlie?” has yet to hit the silver screen, Manrique is already planning his next endeavor: a fish-out-of-water story set in Oaxaca, Mexico.

“It’s about a New Yorker who goes to Oaxaca and does a complete 180 in her life,” he said.

“I like telling stories with a Latin flavor because it’s a different point of view but still a universal story that everyone can relate to,” added Manrique, who was born in Ecuador.

Manrique encourages GW students who have an interest in film to reach out to him on Instagram at @whoinvitedcharlie_film or @xavimanrique. But if they’re serious about making it in the film industry, then they better be ready and willing to do the work.

“You have to put in your hours, there’s no way around it,” Manrique warned, noting that for over a decade he’d often work 18-hour days. “There are no shortcuts, but if you do the hard work, then it all comes together in the end.”

“Who Invited Charlie?,” starring Jordana Brewster, Reid Scott and Adam Pally, will be released in select theaters and on demand everywhere on Feb. 3.