News & Updates
What does it mean to be a Girl Boss? As part of the Diverse Women in Media Forum, a handful of prominent Latina writers and showrunners got together at the NALIP Media Summit to discuss that very question in regards to the television industry. Envisioned as a practical discussion on the realities of being a woman of color in a writer’s room, the conversation was a must watch for those hoping to get pointers as to how to succeed in the industry.
Titled “Girl Boss: A Look into the Writer’s Room” the panel boasted quite the lineup. Moderated by Digital-Reign producer Evette Vargas, attendees got to hear from Davah Avena, currently a writer and story editor on Devious Maids, Charo Toledo, the producer behind East Los High, and Luisa Leschin, a producer on the George Lopez show.
As they put it, all four women wanted to keep it real and dish on what it means to be a woman in what is so often a white male-dominated world. They offered tips, tricks, and survival guides for those wanting to enter the world of television writing. As Leschin put it, if you somehow think that touting your gender and your identity is enough — “Oh, I’m Latina so I’m the Latina expert” — you’re in for a rude awakening. “That almost invariably doesn’t fly.” Thankfully the panel was full of helpful ideas (number 1: Don’t be an asshole) as to how to navigate the television writing world as an up-and-comer.
Find some highlights from the session, including one analogy as to what it means to be a woman in an all-male field that is both hilarious and terrifying.
On What It Is Like To Be A Woman In a Writers Room
Luisa: It’s extremely different for women than it is for men. Maybe when you get to a higher position it evens out a little bit but you are entering an intrinsically men’s club. And you have to adjust to that. I always call the room it’s akin to a show Survivor. There is a lot to learn from that show as it pertains to being in a [Writers] room. It’s about alliances, it’s about analyzing the pecking order, it’s about strategy.
Davah: I think it’s also your job to read the room and find out what the environment is. You’re probably going into an environment that’s already pre-existing so you have to really try to pick up on whatever hints there are to figure out what the power dynamics of the room are. You probably can’t change those power dynamics so it’s probably best to figure out what your strategy is going to be.
Charo: I’ll also say, there’s a word, and it’s a word that’s hard to say for Latinas because it’s an English word but it’s a competition in Alaska called the Iditarod. And it is in the Alaskan tundra and you go on a sleigh, pulled by dogs for a thousand miles. It is snow. And a hundred degrees below freezing. There are horrible conditions and it’s a man’s world and a woman is not even expected to get to the finish line. Eso no va a funcionar! If you have that in mind, then you’re gonna be great! Because I think that in the Latina market — and I work in both markets — we think we’re so cute and so pretty and guess what? You’re not. It’s an Iditarod, girl! And you know, the only woman who won, the reason she won [the Iditarod] is that she left in the middle of the night in the middle of a blizzard — you know, when the men were by the fire drinking the whiskey. And that’s what I want to inspire today: I want to tell you to be brave.
Luisa: You have to take a holistic approach to being in the writers room and a writing career. Like, if I had a choice between taking a writing class and a psychology class, I’d take the psychology class. (Laughter). I’m not joking.
On Assessing When To Speak Up
Charo: I’m the only woman producing this undisclosed new show and I am with the owner, the head of production. I am with the head of casting, the head of the other show, my right hand guy in the room. And a comment was made about a show and it was a very angry, despicable, horrible comment. This particular producer did not know that I had worked on that show and that I’m incredibly proud of it. So this guy is going off and on and on about this show. And so here we are: we are in the room! I am the only woman. I am at the table, which is very rare for the women to be at the table. But we have two choices in our head: we shut up and say nothing and pretend that we’re in Hawaii in our vacation or do our makeup — an out of body experience — and we just say chill, we’re here for another project and let this guy say ugly things. Or we speak up. So I just said, for now I’m gonna let it go. So the owner of the company comes back to stir it up. Because he’s like we’ll Charo knows because she worked on that show. And so I said, “Well, since YOU brought it up! I want to speak to that.” So I say to the producer — rata de dos patas! rata inmunda! — he turned that color of that bright pink post-it. And basically I went off: you want to talk about race and you want to talk about cable and I said, well that show just got sold to Netflix International and premieres in August; what is your show doing? And he was like, “Oh I guess I shouldn’t say my opinion.” And I told him, “Oh no, mijo go ahead and say your opinion, pero te canto las mañanitas yo también.” In the men’s world, this was a bully and sometimes you have to play by those men’s rules. Push back. And say, espérate no!
Luisa: One of the things that people don’t talk about is there’s a particular language that is used in a room. And so many baby writers and new writers and haven’t been told it. So they go “I don’t think that’s right!” There are ways of saying like, “How about we try this…?” There’s soft language that you use and again, in that whole psychological thing: you don’t shit on someone’s pitch. And if you want to start developing alliances and if someone above you says something, you say, “That’s such a great idea!” and then try and build on that. You reinforce other people’s pitches and hopefully that’ll give you something back.
Davah: When you say “I don’t like that” invariably the showrunner or someone will look at you and say “Well what’s YOUR idea?”
Evette: That’s another great survival tip. When you find something you don’t like, always praise the positive and pull out what is a kernel and then make it better.
Davah: I once saw Tim Minear, an EP of a lot of shows, once say this thing that comes from Improv: “Yes, and…” You want to be the person who says, “yes and…”
Charo: No “but!”
On Staying True To Your Voice
Luisa: When I first got on to George Lopez there were very high energy guys in the room and I couldn’t speak up. And they were cursing — and I curse like a sailor too, but I wasn’t doing it in the room. What started happening was that every time they dropped an F-bomb they would turn to me and say “Sorry.” So I analyzed and I realized, oh you’re making me the grandmother in this room. So I saw that and figured out what I had to do. So I started dropping the biggest F-bombs in the room and shocking those guys so that no one could turn to me and say “Sorry!”
On The Challenges Of Being A Minority
Luisa: One of the reasons it’s so hard to be hired as a woman or as a Latina, it’s that you are the Other in the room. And what that does is it gives whoever is hiring — the showrunner — it gives them an extra thing to think about, it gives them extra work. This doesn’t make them bad people but if I’m a white guy and I hire my buddy who I’ve worked with another project or I went to school with someone who’s just like them. I don’t have to think. I have a shorthand already; there’s a familiarity with this person. If I hire a young woman of color that is foreign to me. And why should I make myself uncomfortable when I have a million things to think about? But that’s changing a lot when women are getting into a lot of higher positions.
Charo: I’ll say this though: 90% of showrunners are white males. We gotta deal in realities but that’s exactly why you women here have to be writing. Because we need that voice and the more people write, the more people do work, the more you can hire your friends, and the more you can spread, and the more original voices and the more it can keep growing. You know, I’m hiring people right now for this show and I’m hiring a lot of people I don’t know. And it’s overwhelming to be honest how many men come at me. The men are very aggressive about getting hired and following up. They really have their game up. They are very aggressive about making themselves indispensable. There’s something to be learnt about that male culture. And not taking things so personally and going after what you want.
Davah: We all want to work with people who we feel comfortable with, so when we’re in a hiring position you better believe I’m going to go to my lady friends and get them in the room. I know they are talented and I know they’re not crazy. When you hire somebody to be on your staff you are committing yourself to being in a room for 10 hours a day for months, Monday through Friday. You can find out that someone is cray-cray and that makes working difficult. I don’t blame old white dudes for hiring their friends because they know who they are are and they know what they’re gonna get. It’s dependent upon us to, as we get higher up in the ranks, to look around us and hire our friends and mentor other women who are coming up. And take a chance on that person who has a great story, has that drive and the ambition.
check this out on Remezcla.com
The webseries by NALIPster William D. Caballero, Gran’pa Knows Best, has been approved to be available on HBO, HBOGO, and HBO NOW! for its second season. The web series will feature 15 videos composed with audio from the filmmaker’s grandfather and 3D print look-alike sculptures.
The series allows young adult viewers to ask Gran'pa any question or seek his advice on a wide array of humorous, yet introspective topics using social media. For each accepted question, the filmmaker calls Gran'pa up and ask on their behalf, recording the conversation.
Congratulations to William D. Caballero! Check out their behind the scenes video.
From Snow White to Elsa, Disney princesses have become a cherished aspect of our culture. And this year the Mouse House is looking to add not one but two new princesses to its roster: its first Polynesian princess (Moana, which boasts songs by none other than Lin-Manuel Miranda) and its first Latina princess. The latter, Elena of Avalor, was first introduced in the highly rated Disney Junior show Sofia the First.
Voiced by Dominican-American actress Aimee Carrero, Elena will make her royal debut this summer as the star of the animated series Elena of Avalor with a one-hour premiere event on July 22, 2016. The show is set in the enchanted fairy tale land of Avalor which borrows influences from diverse Latin and Hispanic cultures. That means you’ll get to see Elena fighting off Noblins, elf-like shapeshifting creatures based on a Chilean peuchen myth at the same time as you’ll hear different musical styles including mariachi, Latin pop, salsa, banda, and Chilean hip hop in what’s bound to be a killer soundtrack for the show. Already, viewers can look forward to hearing Latin Grammy winner Gaby Moreno on the theme song for the show.
If that’s not enough to get you psyched about it, Elena of Avalor’s voice cast reads like a who’s who of our faves: in the core cast alone you can find Jorge Diaz (from East Los High, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones and Love, Concord) as Gabe, Elena’s friend and rising star of the Royal Guard of Avalor, and Ugly Betty’s Ana Ortiz as Rafa, the mother of another of Elena’s friends.
And that’s to say nothing of its guest stars which include Lou Diamond Phillips (as a villain!), Constance Marie (as a Magister!), Hector Elizondo (as a wicked wizard!), and even Danny Trejo (as an Avalon hero!) The show will even play host to three Jane the Virgin stars with Jaime Camil voicing a restaurateur, Ivonne “Abuela” Coll giving life to an overly dramatic ghost, and Anthony Mendez — Jane’s narrator himself — lending his voice to King Juan Ramón, a monarch from the Argentine-inspired Kingdom of Cordoba. Color us excited!
Elena of Avalor premieres July 22, 2016 at 7 pm on the Disney Channel.
Check them out on remezcla.com
Want to see the show before is premiere? 'Elena of Avalor' will screen Friday, June 24 at 5:00 p.m. at the 2016 NALIP Media Summit and will be followed by a conversation with the creators of the show! Get your pass.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Eva Longoria has some advice for the new graduates of the American Film Institute: Use Rita Moreno as a guiding light to use myriad points of view.
Longoria presented the legendary stage and screen actress with an honorary doctorate of fine arts Wednesday in Los Angeles.
"As you go on to write and direct and produce ... rise above caricature, as she does. Create complete and complicated characters, as she does," Longoria told the audience of students and their family members — including Denzel Washington, whose son was graduating. She stressed how important it was to her as a young Latina girl to see Moreno lighting up the big screen in "West Side Story."
Moreno took the podium with a little spin and a kick after the "America" song and dance scene from "West Side Story" played on the big screen behind her at the TCL Chinese Theatre.
"All I can figure is that the powers that be are giving me credit for 70 years of not giving up," Moreno said. "The trick is just to live for 84 years and wear them the hell down."
Moreno recalled her discouraging early days in Hollywood where she was called on by studios to play any and every ethnicity — and how she'd use the same accent for all. She called them "dusky maiden roles," and usually they would involve her character ending up devastated after being rebuffed by white men.
"I had to deliver lines to my white lover like, 'why you love Ula no more?'" Moreno said, referring to the 1955 film "Seven Cities of Gold."
And yet, Moreno said, that those directors and studios "could not succeed in drowning this Puerto Rican." She of course would rise above that early stereotyping, winning Emmys, a Grammy, Tony and Oscar.
Quentin Tarantino was also on hand to pick up an honorary doctorate, laughing about the fact that he never even graduated high school.
"I actually did try to enroll in AFI in the early 80s," he said. "I actually tried to get a job at Grauman's Chinese Theatre and that didn't work out either."
He urged the graduating students to use their work to contribute to the conversation "on race ... on culture ... on America ... on the world ... on politics."
"We need you," he said.
Check this out on ap.org
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The LAMC (Latin Alternative Music Conference) is the only major conference celebrating and supporting genres of Latin music that are left of center and forging the way Latinos, especially young, bicultural-millennial Latinos in the U.S., define themselves. Hailed by The New York Times as the “Sundance of Latin music”, the LAMC is also the largest Latin music conference in the US. The 17th annual LAMC continues its focus of being dedicated to music, food, film, books, art and poetry.
Check them out on http://www.latinalternative.com/
ATTENTION! Create and enter a film in "On Location: The Los Angeles Video Project" and have a shot at winning over $50,000 in prizes! Lean more at www.nfmla.org/onlocation