Meeting With ‘Latino Americans’ Team Leads to Hiring of Latina Co-Director Sonia Fritz

In April we ran two letters about the new PBS series Latino Americans, currently in production. Many of you wrote to us weighing in on this very important conversation: why was a national PBS series on the history of Latinos in the US not hiring a Latino/a to direct the recreations? Others, including a group of distinguished Latino media makers,  also wrote to the series expressing their concern.

The creative team, including series executive producer Jeff Bieber, series producer Adriana Bosch, executive director of LPB Sandie Viquez Pedlow, and producers Ray Telles and John Valadez attended the Diverse Voices, Universal Content conference this past April and asked for a meeting with NALIP Board of Directors and members of the documentary community.  As Vangie Griego, NALIP Board of Advisors, recently wrote, “… we had a very lively discussion where people had a chance to bring up their thoughts about the issue at hand.  The Series team listened and acknowledged that they had made a mistake and where willing to find a solution, in spite of the fact that they are scheduled to begin shooting in 2 weeks.” (Griego was part of a group who also wrote to the Latino Americans series team.)

NALIP is happy to report back that the series team hired Sonia Fritz as co-director of the recreations.  “David (Belton) had been working on the scenes that had to be re-enacted since many month before with Adriana,” commented Fritz after her short stint with the series. “The scenes were scripted, two with dialogue the rest just visuals, and he had discussed them also with the DP with whom they had also worked together, so we both directed the actors, I more the ones that spoke Spanish.” NALIP is proud that this was a win-win for all involved. 

At the meeting we also discussed the need for the series to hire Latino editors. Since the meeting, we have suggested many qualified editors to the creative team. We know that they have been looking to fill an editorial position, but we do not know the status of this search. We are also working towards a win-win here.

NALIP looks forward to continuing our work with the Latino Americans series, for we know there will be much work to be done as they roll out the educational/ community engagement campaign. NALIP, as a non-profit, was created to foster and promote Latino creative talent: our first conference came about as a call to action because CPB had defunded the Latino minority consortia. This April we came full circle: only this time we are having a dialogue with our own community about the need for Latino media makers to create our visional history. The dialogue with Jeff Bieber, Adriana Bosch and other members of the creative team shows that positive change can come about if all parties have the best interest of the community at heart. 

We look forward to hearing the results of the editor search, and the staff and consultant needs for the series' educational campaign. We will continue to cover this as the series moves from production to outreach.