#WeAreInclusion

 

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Throughout the past 18 years, NALIP has evolved as a leader in the promotion and advancement of Latino content creators across media. Every day we are a step closer to changing the media landscape by seeing more images made by and about Latinos. As we continue to grow, we have been fortunate enough to develop an extensive network of people who help us strengthen our influence in the industry through collaboration, and we decided to launch a new campaign to highlight those faces of NALIP.

Whether you're a director, filmmaker or industry executive, your work with our organization has shaped what #WeAreInclusion means.

NALIP has celebrated the convergence of media and diversity in the general market. Now, we want to take it a step further and push for the INCLUSION of diverse stories and people in the industry. Over the past few months, we interviewed NALIP members; their answers and personal stories of tenacity, tribulation and triumph inspired a project highlighting their influence within the industry and NALIP. Hearing their stories inspired us to continue our commitment to inclusion and to widely declare that we are the inclusion that will drive the future of the entertainment industry forward.

#WeAreInclusion is how we move forward in the current media ecosystem. We hope you find inspiration through these stories and that they propel you forward or help you up in the ladder of INCLUSION.



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Benjamin-Shalom Rodríguez, self-proclaimed queer filmmaker, comedian and writer, has been with NALIP since 2014 and was a buyer at the Latino Media Market.

Rodríguez began writing in high school and always had a knack for turning harsh tragedy into heavy and heartfelt comedy. However, growing up, he always felt out of place. With a Mexican-American and Jewish background, he was always caught between cultures. After going through spiritual therapy with a friend, he began to embrace his unique qualities.

His regained confidence led him to become a developing executive. “The only thing separating them from us is that they are just doing it. Why limit oneself?” He asks.
After joining NALIP, Rodríguez made numerous connections and friendships. Being a buyer at the Latino Media Market for 3Pas Studios, he realized that people need to learn to “present their projects.”
Rodríguez states that Latinos have to be unapologetic and let the masses know they are more than the stereotypes typically portrayed in the media. He knows that Latinos have to continue fighting for correct, accurate and just representation.

Rodríguez continues to progress by his short films getting accepted into Oscar Qualifying Film Festivals. His short films Alpha and Bettas were accepted into the Rhode Island International Film festival and HollyShorts Film Festival. Bettas did exceptional by winning Best LGBTQ Short at IFS LA Film Festival.

Rodríguez just released his latest comedy short online, Diet & Exercise, that stars Veronica Osorio and Veronica Mannion that has garnered over 5,000 views in its first week. To watch Diet & Exercise Click Here

Twitter/ Instagram: @thebunrodriguez
Facebook: www.facebook.com/benjamin.shalom.rodriguez

 




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 Nancy C. Mejía has a very humble beginning with NALIP. Her involvement began as a volunteer for the 2015 Media Summit because she could not afford a pass to the event by the time she heard of it. She drove the transport van for a week and was so busy she actually did not make it into the actual Summit. However, her hard work and dedication received recognition, and she was later able to showcase her short film as part of the Latino Lens program.

Mejía, born and raised in Los Angeles, is the middle child in a Salvadoran family of five. As a first-generation college student, she often lacked having someone to mentor her, and she had to be her own pioneer. Mejía’s creative experience began when she would get in trouble for drawing in church. She always knew creation was in her blood, but because of her working-class background she did not think she could have a creative career. As a queer youth, Mejía became very observant and passive as she learned what was acceptable in her family life.

In reference to the overcoming the obstacles she has faced, Mejía says, “I think what allows me to be persistent regardless of the challenges is that I’m an innately stubborn person. So if you tell me I can’t do something, it just creates a fire within me. That combined with the fact I have a support system. Whenever you’re feeling down or doubtful, they encourage you and that’s so important for anyone, especially someone trying to do something different.”

Mejía believes that content creators should discover their own voice and execute it in a way that is genuine and specific to them. In doing so, when people see the work, they become interested and passionate about helping nurture that talent. Ultimately, the campaign slogan means banding together as a community to support a worthwhile project.

Mejía believes that, for the very first time, it is up to the Latino community to decide where we are headed in the entertainment industry. She knows Latinos have a large influence within the industry and it is very exciting. “I feel like it’s okay for us to discover what our voice is and try not to put our work in a box or category we think we need to fit into,” she says.

It’s been said, “luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” For Mejía, this quote has never been more relevant. After a recommendation by NALIP, an original pilot script, and two rounds of interviews, Nancy was hired as a staff writer on her first series by STARZ. Nancy recognizes it’s a privilege to start her professional television career in such a diverse, inclusive writer’s room. Nancy looks forward to practicing and refining her craft as a storyteller.

 Twitter: @NanCwrites

 




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Francesca Ricagni is always on the search for cross-over content that transcends borders, bound only by how great the stories are told. She believes now is the time for Latinos to push for inclusion because they are on the precipice of a new wave of cinema. She believes NALIP is here to best position Latinos for that leap.

Ricagni, a producer and writer for Migrante Content, says Latin America is a thriving hub for creative content. She travels all over the world seeking the best production teams and funding for the stories she believes in. “In our company, we’re always looking for young writers. We really believe that content is king,” she says.
She believes if someone has a compelling story to tell it doesn’t matter what ethnicity he/she is. Unfortunately, the current media narrative that Latinos are extremely different, even amongst themselves, hinders that notion. “The way to generate conflict and power is by keeping people divided,” she says. That is why #WeAreInclusion resonates with Ricagni; she believes it encompasses a mission to gather talented content creators and untie the entertainment markets.
Aside from joining organizations like NALIP, Ricagni encourages everyone to look at markets outside of America. She hopes one day international markets are not separated and easily crossed, but for the time being she thinks a film doesn’t need to be made in America to be a success. Many Latin American countries offer monetary incentives for filmmakers to produce and film their project in their country and she encourages creators to take advantage of those opportunities.
“When you get to Latin America as a content creator that has been in the United States, people open their doors to you because they’re hungry to learn,” she said. Ricagni advises U.S. Latinos to learn Spanish, if they don’t already know it, and to take advantage of the possibilities and opportunities outside of the country.
Recently Ricagni filmed a documentary for PSG and a pilot she wrote called “Corazonada.”

 

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Ligiah Villalobos was at the very first NALIP meeting. She describes it as a meeting of 25 people in San Francisco where a bunch of Latinos were complaining about never getting their images out. “It wasn’t really about trying to find solutions,” she said. “It was just people being really pissed about their stories not being told, about them not being hired.”
It was not until five years after that first meeting that Villalobos decided to go back to NALIP and realized it had become an organization which was really trying to promote Latino voices and be a support system for the community. She was recently involved as a mentor at the NALIP’s Diverse Women in Media Forum.


Villalobos is a writer, producer and director, who has worked both in feature films and television. Before these roles, she was a studio executive, working at the Walt Disney Company. She has overseen the ABC Diverse Program and worked at the CW, overseeing six shows, such as Steve Harvey and The Jamie Foxx Show. Villalobos left the television industry when she realized she hated the way people of color were being portrayed. She questioned why she was working on shows she did not believe in – she calls it her moment of clarity. Thus, she became a writer.
“My focus has been to tell positive stories of both women and people of color,” she says. “I believe everybody has their own journey, and what is important to me may not be important to other artists. Follow your journey, follow your path – do what it is you’re passionate about doing. Hopefully along the way, if you’re not making a difference with the material you’re putting out in the world, hopefully you’re making a difference by volunteering, by mentoring.”


Today, Villalobos teaches at Cal State University, Los Angeles, because she wanted to teach to Latinos who need the knowledge. Over 50 percent of the student body at that school is Latino or a first-generation college student. She felt that was where her voice was going to make a difference. Villalobos is also currently developing two TV series ideas. To Villalobos #WeAreInclusion means “It doesn’t always have to mean tell the Latino story. It means hire the Latino writer, hire the Latino DP, hire the Latino editor, hire the Latino director.”

Twitter: @JalapenoFilms
Instagram: charbonete

 

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Learn more about us and become a member

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Photo Credit: Yunuen Bonaparte

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