When we think of rich cultures of diversity, Latin culture is always mentioned. Yet, so often, they are the side characters in so many shows. A culture with such a story deserves to be the main character of their shows! And guess what, there is an organization devoted to providing an opportunity for creators to write, produce, direct, and hone their respective crafts to be in positions to write these shows.
The National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP) states, “NALIP has been devoted to the advancement of Latinx creatives across all media platforms.” NALIP has created programs such as the Latino Media Fest, where accomplished creators come and provide advice, their stories and recommend NALIP to upcoming creators.
The Latino Media Fest is a two-day event on Oct 13th and Oct 14th, 2021. The Latino Media Fest had many accomplished speakers. To name a few, Steven Canals, the creator of the hit drama Pose, Brett King, the vice president of Sony, Gloria Calderón Kellett, an award-winning writer, to name a few. The Latino Media Fest also blessed the audience with a powerful advanced screening of Home Sweet Home by Ava DuVernay.
The Latino Media Fest had panels catered towards the progression of writing, films, and art. First, Brett King participated in a panel called Next Generation of Writers. The panel is described on the Latino Media Fest website as “the opportunities there are for the next generation of Latinx filmmakers. And how Sony & TriStar are making the industry a more accessible and an equitable ecosystem.”
Following that eye-opening panel was the exceptional panel of A Seat at the Table with Steven Canals. A Seat at the Table with Steven Canals is “a discussion on building the creative pipeline for Latinx and BIPOC talent, on and off-screen. How can successful creatives work together to uplift diverse voices and pave the way for the next generation? How can up-and-coming Latinx and BIPOC creatives claim space in the industry even while working on projects where they are the minority? What’s the best way for new Latinx and BIPOC creatives to enter the entertainment industry and establish their careers?” Steven Canals’ panel was a fantastic heartfelt conversation.
What’s the “Overall” Deal? With Gloria Calderón Kellett was another standout interview. In this panel, we learned what the inside mindset of the accomplished writer Gloria Calderón Kellett is. Also, what Calderón Kellett feels “the best practices for creatives” are to take. The Latino Media Fest was a two-day event of stars coming together to help push out great talent through NALIP.
Brett King spoke about the importance of programs like NALIP, “these programs are critical not just for providing access and exposure. But for providing network opportunities that allow for careers to be built.”
Steven Canals’ interview was very passionate and inspiring. He spoke on why NALIP is important, “What NALIP is doing is critically important. They are filling a gap. What NALIP has done was very quickly create a space for all like-minded folks to come together. Here is a community; here are your people. That is the greatest strength of NALIP.” Canals’ voice raised to make sure the audience understood this statement: “Steven Canals, isn’t the person you need to be getting in with, the person you need to be connecting with, are all the people sitting with you when you go to whatever festival NALIP has put on during the year.”
Calderón Kellett ended off her interview with the love and respect she has for NALIP, “I love many things about NALIP, I love that there’s a place people can go. It is such a resource for people who want to be storytellers, and there are people there who can guide you who can tell you here are the things you want to do.” Award-winning Calderón Kellett has made multiple suggestions, and NALIP always listens. “When I said hey, you guys they need to know what a writers room looks like, they put together mini writers rooms. For me, that means they are listening to what I have to say, and they are trying to put it to action to make actual change.”
This change that Calderón Kellett spoke empathically about is the change to have stories written from the point of view of a respective demographic to inspire others. Canals said it best, “The reality is we need to be in positions of power. How do you inspire young people to do that when we do not see ourselves in those roles. What is so critically important about television is that the aspirational part of television. We know because it has been enough studies that have shown and proven that TV impacts self-esteem. This encourages folks to go out into the world and pursue particular vocations. It is important to see on television women, LGBTQ+, and folks in color in roles that we have historically not seen ourselves in. It will let us know we can do that.”
The advanced screening of Ava DuVernay’s docuseries Home Sweet Home further delivers the point of change. The Latino Media Fest described the series as “Each episode of the docuseries explores the lives of two different families and brings together themes of identity, race, and gender.” Home Sweet Home is the modern-day Wife Swap, but instead of wives, it is culture.
The screening had a powerful message. One lesbian black family talked about how black people made a culture out of nothing. The couple realized how disconnected they are from their history, traditional foods, and rituals compared to the Greek home/family they switched homes with. The Greek family struggled with not having structure when it came to praying and connecting to God. The reason is that they are used to being in a church and having traditions they follow. Throughout the episode, the father became more comfortable seeing a successful house being led without a man. Overall, the show taught both sides and the audience about perspective. Although we had two families with drastically different backgrounds, we learned how similar the families are; they all share a love for their respective families. This unique show can lead to many new stories we have not seen yet. And this is only one episode.
The more diverse the writing is, the better. We as people strive for novelty and the next big thing. This may be the secret ingredient for Gloria Calderón Kellett’s success as she stated, “I am more interested in stories I have not heard a million times. So that is always going to be the center of my storytelling because I am the center of my own stories. The poster will always include a Latina person.”
The world needs diverse writers. And NALIP is providing fantastic opportunities to help creators connect with the next generations of writers and hone their crafts to stand out when they get their chance. Go on https://www.nalip.org/programs to learn more!
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