At the age of 11, Arden Pala at Rancho Bernardo has achieved more than many adults dream of. He is the author of three books on travel and inclusivity and is the 2020 Los Angeles Film Festival’s Best Child Actor.
But his accomplishments are only part of what sets this sixth grader at Francis Parker School apart. He also has a great desire to help others and is incredibly humble about what he has accomplished.
“Mom, please no, it’s not time to brag,” he says shyly when his mother lists his successes in an interview with NBC 7 – inventor, writer, actor who starred in productions at the Old Globe; The list goes on.
Instead, Arden wanted to focus the interview on his new book “The Adventure of Noah’s Flying Car Through Mexico”.
The book – the third part of his picture book series about a boy who experiences different cultures by traveling – is now being sold on Amazon. All proceeds will go to the COVID-19 Community Response Fund in San Diego, which provides funding for organizations and people struggling locally during the coronavirus pandemic.
By the age of 11, Arden Pala had already published three books and won an acting award.
“There are so many problems in the world. I want to solve at least some of them and help solve them. So I got a feeling, why don’t we just donate all of our funds [the relief fund] because that will help some people out here in their lives, ”Arden said of why he chose to donate his proceeds instead of keeping them.
The proceeds from Arden’s first two books “The Adventures of Noah’s Flying Car Through Turkey” and “The Adventures of Noah’s Flying Car Through China” were also donated to organizations, one for the homeless and one for animal shelters.
“As a parent, I wasn’t surprised when he wanted to donate proceeds to the book because it was always part of his identity,” said his mother, Zeynep Ilgaz. “Giving back has always been part of who he is as a person. He continues to volunteer in the soup kitchen and always donates his time and pocket money to people in need.”
Arden started the book series when he was 8 years old. As a Turkish-American, he said he was bullied in elementary school for being different. He thought the books were a fun way to encourage people to learn about different cultures.
“I’ve been different and I’ve been bullied at times, but I wrote these books to tell other viewers that it’s okay to be different,” he said.
In the latest episode, Noah – the main character based on one of Arden’s true friends – brings his flying car to Mexico, where he travels the country, swims with dolphins, visits historical sites, and shares facts about Mexico’s culture and people on the Path.
“I hope this book tells other people a lot about the country and if they want, if they like it so much and they feel like it sounds really, really funny, go there yourself,” said Arden.
Arden was inspired by his own travels and each book is based on a country he has previously visited. It wasn’t the only part of the book that was inspired by his real life.
“When I was 8 years old, I wanted to invent a flying car,” said Arden.
Now he’s not sure what he’s going to do with his future – whether he’s going to write another book or not, whether he’s going to be an actor, an inventor, or something else entirely. but he hopes “time will tell”.
“I feel like I can do anything I set out to do and if I work hard enough I can achieve almost anything,” he added.
The teenager is also aware that he is fortunate to have supportive parents and other adults around who encouraged him to succeed, funded portions of his book, and offered advice along the way. Its Old Globe director James Vasquez even wrote the title of his latest book.
He thanked his parents, his directors and had a special greeting to a teacher.
“She inspired me, my teacher, Mrs. Robinson. She inspired me to do a number of other shows, and she was a great resource,” said Arden. “And she helped me a lot with these books and I just want to thank her for it.”