Tanya Saracho depicts the dream of an aspiring Latinx talent. As the Showrunner and the Creator of Vida on Starz until the show ended in May 2020, Sarah's humble beginnings as a playwright in Chicago and 15 year tenure served as the foundation of her career in writing for Television in 2012. Early in her career, Saracho recognized the lack of diversity and representation within the media and entertainment industry. She was determined to take charge of her career and in turn impact the way in which Latinx were represented.
Initially being an actress, she saw how Latinx were not represented right because she was always auditioning for roles as maids or prostitutes, which she called the “Jesse Mr. Johnson” roles. Saracho expresses that it was “kind of out of the necessity” that she started the theater company called Teatro Luna, an all Latina company that I ran for ten years in Chicago. Sarah's break into the industry is best described as a preparation meets success story. She had been writing for years and invested time to perfect her craft. When the opportunity arose to write for TV, she was prepared to take the leap and begin her career.
Her career transition into Television was led through an unexpected meeting with an agent who discovered Saracho’s talent to write for TV. One of her writings turned out to be Devious Maids. Currently, Saracho is working on Vida, the original half hour series on the Starz network. “It has been an amazing process working. My writers’ room is Latinax. My cinematograph, composers and my production coordinator are Latinax. Like what I did in Chicago with Theater Luna that I had all females, it is very important for a female gaze show to be let be females and Latinax.”
As one of and the only show runners that put Latinax out there on shows, Saracho thinks it is not only important to have people in front of camera, but also show runners, as they are CEO of the show making not just creative decisions, but hiring behind the line. “ When we get into those spaces, we have our lens on, we sort of shifted to how we see the world, which is inclusive, which is this campaign “We are inclusion”. That’s all we want, that includes us in the conversation, like the Hamilton are. We want to be in the room where it happens. Right now, not enough of us are in the room where it happens.” With this in mind, Saracho signed a development deal with Universal Content Productions on August 2020 to create original content for television, develop podcasts and establish a lab and incubator program to amplify intersectional Latinx voices.
Saracho’s involvement with NALIP started when she was working on a panel for a summit about 4 years ago. After that, she has always kept in touch with NALIP. When she was staffing her first room “Vida” for the first season, she was able to find and hire a brilliant writer Nancy Meheya from NALIP. As a talent buyer or as a producer once writer, she appreciates the access to great talent polls at NALIP. “Right now we need an access point, we need an access point. A lot of us are entering the industry, but we don’t have a lot of guides. Organizations like NALIP are imperative, because we need a place to gather and we need an access, an access point for resources and for community, just for information we could not get. Maybe we don’t have anyone we know in the industry. So this comes to be a great place for the community.”
“We are inclusion”, to Saracho, is like a Hamilton song, being in the room where it happens. It is intersectionality, it’s access, it being there. “ My writer’s room, my set and post are mostly Latinax. I am trying to develop and train showrunners in my room. It is my job to do anything I can to train them to be showrunners, and it is our responsibility to open those doors because no one has open for us.”