#WEAREINCLUSION Profiles

  • Marcos Cline

    Posted by · October 28, 2020 2:09 PM

    Marcos Cline admires the organization because it is not meant to do the work for its members, but rather open doors for the members’ work.

    As a producer focused on advertisement, Cline described how when he first started working in the entertainment industry, the Latino market was defined by language. Only films or television shows that were in Spanish were marketed towards Latinos; however, now the market is defined by culture, so filmmakers should not rely on stereotypes or language to be relatable. “We are doing in our market exactly what we’ve critiqued Hollywood was doing for years. When we make content, we always make it for a niche market,” he says.

    Cline has always been vigilant as to what stories to produce that best represent the missing voices in Hollywood. During his early career, he interned at a production company in Los Angeles when he was given a script titled ‘The Mexican.’ He did not believe in the Latino image the script was portraying, so he told the producer, “I think this is a piece of junk. I think we’re beyond the time of stereotypes. I think we can look at Latino characters in a more nuanced, layered way.” The next day he learned Brad Pitt had signed on to do the film. Yet, that did not change his opinion of the script. “I’m going to protect the image I want to portray of my culture and my heritage,” he says.

    Today, he is the executive producer for Altered.LA, a production company specializing in feature films and commercials.
    To Cline, #WeAreInclusion means hiring the best people for the job. Those people may not always have the most credits, but will have more experience that benefits the project.“Tell great story, not because it’s a Latino story, but because you are a Latino,” Cline says as he discusses the importance of recognizing Latino talent.

  • Maru Buendia-Senties

    Posted by · October 27, 2020 3:38 PM

    Writer and director Maru Buendia-Senties is a Mexico City native who relocated with her family, when she was young, to move to the United States. Her work promotes female representation, showcasing her personal experiences on the screen. She has been honored by the Princess Grace Foundation and has worked on five award winning films. Buendia-Senties got her Masters in Fine Arts Film Production from the University of Texas in Austin. She was part of the NALIP Latino Lens Short Narrative Incubator and produced her award-winning short film “Windows”. Her short film touches on the topics of humanity and technology. See more about the film here.

    Buendia-Senties talks about her work with a select genre of films and their significance. “I like to write stories about horror, action, science fiction and I like it because when you go into genre filmmaking, you open an endless world of possibilities.” Working with these genres has not been easy for Buendia-Senties. She explains, “Genre filmmaking, is not usually something you see in female Mexican writers/directors. For some reason these genres are associated with men, ‘Men can do action better, men can do horror better.’”

    When creating characters, Buendia-Senties provides female representation by giving women the same skill capabilities as men. Inclusion to her means, “The reflection of what the world already has: different races, different genders, and having them all come together. That's what we reflect by being inclusion.” She included language is an important factor when it comes to writing the dialogue. “Why not put a female lead in a sci-fi film? Why not have them speak Spanish, that's what I did with my sci-fi “Windows,” Buendia-Senties states. Buendia-Senties shares her positive experience with the community she has built. Her work and self have developed more professionally and she expresses her content when engaging with other NALIP members and affiliates, “It was actually seeing somebody believe so much in a project and understanding what the project was about.” Latinx representation has risen over the past couple of years and Buendia-Senties voices why she chose to commit to NALIP, “I was inspired to get in touch with their whole mission. They really do give you an opportunity to be your best and show people what you can really do.”

  • Nickolas Duarte

    Posted by · October 23, 2020 3:50 PM

    When Nickolas Duarte, writer and director at Crown Chimp Productions, became a NALIP member he found the acceptance that was missing within the film industry.

    Duarte, originally from Tucson, AZ, comes from a loving and supportive family. He had never seen himself as someone who had to overcome serious obstacles. However, after graduating from college and facing an exclusive industry, he realized that there were opportunities he was not able to take advantage of because of his status, background or ethnicity. “Culturally, as Latinos, we have this mentality that we put our heads down and work harder, just put in the extra hours, which is great, but I think there are times that we need to put our heads up and be more aggressive about things,” he said.

    Duarte directed an eBay commercial campaign and worked on a series for WB. He premiered several of his works; his short film "Trouble Will Find Her" which premiering online on Film Shortage and Director’s Note and his documentary "Jay" premiered at Academy-qualifying St. Louis International Film Festival.

    To him, our #WeAreInclusion campaign symbolizes collaboration and support. “It’s very important to have this group of people, this family that helps build you up.” He hopes to be able to look back 50 years from now and laugh about how “how weird it was that studios had to put in diversity programs to bring in Latino or black voices.”

     

    Follow Nickolas

    Instagram and Twitter: @mrnickduarte

     

  • Diego Najera

    Posted by · October 23, 2020 3:49 PM

    Diego Nájera was attracted to NALIP because it is a place where young people can connect and young creators can start out and get to know the industry. He believes in NALIP’s mission of networking creators to executives, not because of ethnicity, but because of a creator's’ talent. As a child, Nájera loved film and would go to the movies every week. He began his career in Mexico as a producer for the Guadalajara International Film Festival and moved to Los Angeles three years ago to earn a Master’s degree from USC’s Peter Stark Film School.

    His biggest hurdle throughout his career has been coming to the U.S. and building a network. “I think you’re always looking for who to do this with,” he says. “Film is a collective medium – you can’t do it on you own. You always need a support system or a group of people to help you out. I think that search is the most challenging part. If you don’t have that system, you’re on your own and you can’t do it. You can’t make it.”

    Nájera’s believes the meaning behind #WeAreInclusion is community. It represents being able to connect with people with similar experiences and who are willing to collaborate. It is a model for the Latino community, which tells the world that Latinos are here and have stories to tell that are not the typical immigration and narco stories.

    Having started off in Mexico, Nájera felt like tapping into the American market was hard because no one was paying attention to Latino films. However, because of the success of certain Latino creators, there is now an opening within the American market. “You do get noticed. You just have to do the work and have a good story to tell with passion and a point of view,” he says. “I think we’ve come a long way, but there’s still work to do. It’s a matter of working at it and opening doors and creating.”

  • Kase Peña

    Posted by · October 23, 2020 3:47 PM

    An award-winning filmmaker, Kase Peña was born in New York City. She’s a Transgender Woman of Color, the offspring of working class parents from the Dominican Republic. She’s fluent in Spanish and also speaks intermediate Portuguese. Kase is the first Trans-Latinx Woman to join the Writers Guild of America. Tribeca recently mentioned Kase and her film Trans Los Angeles on their Instagram stories, as a filmmaker and a film worthy of being supported. Legendary Trans icon Carmen Carrera and Stephanie Beatriz of Brooklyn 99 fame are attached to Trans Los Angeles.

    Her feature screenplay I Love Hate, the recipient of The Sundance Institute Launch Grant, is being produced by Angel Lopez, a producer on Justin Simien’s Dear White People and Bad Hair; both of these films had their World Premiere at Sundance.

    HBO has picked up distribution rights to Full Beat, Kase’s latest short film. Along with her short Trabajo, this marks the second time HBO distributes a film written and directed by Kase Peña. Furthermore, Kase has been the recipient of some of the most acclaimed Fellowships in the industry, including The Latino Lens Narrative Shorts Incubator; the Ryan Murphy TV Directing Program; Film Independent Project Involve, Women-In-Film, among many others. Sony Pictures Entertainment named Kase their Diversity Fellow for 2019. Last year, Kase shadowed Emmy Award winning Showrunner/Director Joey Soloway on the set of Transparent Musicale Finale.

    Kase Peña has taken part in NALIP’s Diverse Women in Media forum and describes the positive and important experience that has come out of her experience with NALIP. Peña describes that as soon as she attended a NALIP event, she immediately made important connections in the business, has learned a lot, and has been made aware of opportunities she didn't know existed.

    Peña describes the events as, “very informative, educational, and they’re a big opportunities to network and make connections and without connections, in this business, it's gonna be very very difficult to survive and move forward.”

  • Sabrina Almeida

    Posted by · October 23, 2020 3:45 PM

    Sabrina Almeida is a television writer who worked on the CBS show 'SEAL Team.' For Sabrina, #WeAreInclusion means the importance for Latinx content creators to support one another as well as to have the Industry understand the value of Latinx voices and what they can bring to the table.

    In order to push Latinxs forward, Almeida puts them in her scripts and prioritizes female protagonists. She makes choices with characters thinking about their background, gender, and how that can be interesting or informative. Working in the writing room, she believes that its important to be supportive of others ideas and compel each other to do better. Having different points of view present when writing is extremely important, and she stresses the value of not being afraid to add your input during discussions to ensure that you can add to it and make it diverse. Her experiences have taught her how to read the vibe of a group and when to talk and how to do so effectively.

    Almeida noticed early on the importance of representation in media. She says, “if when we watch television and we see certain people only have certain roles, we might limit what we think we want to pursue or can do”. This is unfortunately very true of Latinx in media, who are often stuck in very few stereotypical roles. Almeida sees writing for television as the best opportunity to show Latinxs in every aspect of society and humanity, better representing real life and positive possibilities for future generations.

  • Michelle Badillo

    Posted by · October 23, 2020 3:44 PM

    Michelle Badillo has risen in the entertainment industry with her most notable work, Netflix’s One Day At A Time. Originally from Queens, New York, Badillo moved out to Los Angeles to pursue her Latinx writing career, having attended Loyola Marymount University and graduated in 2013 with degrees in Screenwriting and Women’s Studies. In 2015, she wrote and directed a short film through the OutSet Young Filmmakers Fellowship Program only for it to premiere at Outfest the same year. Her experience led her to become a writer for One Day At A Time and open up the door for her to also become a story editor.

    As an LGBT Latinx, Badillo is taking part in inclusion by, “making sure that my voice is heard and that my experience is expressed.” She explains her inspiration, stating, “I’ve never seen a gay teenage Latinx person on TV, I had no context for seeing that and I think that’s part of why it took me so long to figure out who I was, and where I fit into my community.” She mentions how creating the Cuban-American version of the One Day At A Time was a challenge at times due to pioneering in the intersectional issues the show explores, but she knew the messages she conveys is important, “I can’t be afraid that it’s something I’ve never seen before because that’s why I had to do it.“

    On NALIP, Badillo expresses her need for a community that not only supports but actively pushes for diversity and inclusion. “I would have never have known how to meet so many people and get in contact with so many people”. Reflecting on her experience as a panelist, Badillo recalls the comfort in an inviting space, “to be in a room and see people that remind you of yourself but are also every type of person you could ever meet.” A quality still undergoing transformations in Hollywood, Badillo felt that NALIP highlighted Latinx talent while connecting each other on a deep level, “it was comforting and it felt like family.”

    Latinx representation has been making sure that we all have access to the same connections”. In giving advice to young LGBT writers, Badillo states, “don’t worry that you are being too yourself because that’s why you're in the room, they hired you because they want to hear your voice.”

  • Mauricio Mota

    Posted by · October 23, 2020 3:43 PM

    Two men are fishing for lobsters. After every catch, they both fill up their tanks. The first man notices that the second man is not covering his tank, but he says nothing, assuming the man knows what he is doing. After their tanks are full, they stop the boat and celebrate by drinking some beer. With liquid courage in him, the first man tells the second man that the lobsters will crawl out of the tank if he doesn’t cover it, and so the first man offers the second man an extra lid. The second man says, “Thank you, but don’t worry. My lobsters are all Latinos so whenever one is going up, the others will pull him down.”

    This is how Maurício Mota, ‘East Los High’ executive producer and co-president of Wise Entertainment, sees the Latino entertainment market. Originally from Brazil, Mota found a “safe haven” at NALIP, which he describes as neutral territory that brings together the Latino community to create a discourse. Now a member for almost three years and a previous Emerging Content Creators mentor, Mota has seen NALIP members gain a sense of realization about their career paths through NALIP’s panels and workshops.

    “Success comes at a very high price. I had a lot of hair during the first season of ‘East Los High’ and now look at me,” he said. “Us as members, panelists or mentors, we’re tools and NALIP is the provider of those tools.” Mota’s hair loss was not for nothing. ‘East Los High’ is Hulu’s longest running drama (four seasons) and the first TV show in U.S history to have an all-latino cast, speaking English.

    “People like to call [East Los High] ‘the unicorn,’ but being the unicorn is lonely. The truth is that we should have five more East Los Highs on the air,” he said. To Mota, #WeAreInclusion reflects this need; only through collaboration and inclusion will there be more unicorns representative of unique cultures in the media landscape.

    Mota says he is tired of seeing stereotypes and simplistic Latino characters. He believes that society reflects pop culture and if the media is only portraying Latinos as “gang members or maids” it affects the Latino population deeply, demoralizing many to aspire to less. Mota did not create ‘East Los High’ with it being relatable in mind, instead he aimed for a great story with complex characters and being relatable turned out to be a byproduct of that.

  • Gabriela Tagliavini

    Posted by · October 23, 2020 3:42 PM

    Gabriela Tagliavini is an award winning writer and director working with major production companies in the United States. Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tagliavini came to the United States to receive her Masters in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, having already earned a Bachelors in film directing in Argentina. “I knew I wanted to be a film director when I was 10 years old. I thought back then that I wanted to win an Oscar,” Tagliavini recalls.

    Tagliavini won the Best Director award through three international film festivals in 2001 with her directorial debut, The Woman Every Man Wants, also known as Perfect Lover, and her film Ladies’ Night broke out at #1 at the Mexican box office in 2002, winning three MTV Movie Awards Mexico. Tagliavini later worked with major production companies such as CNN, Disney, and Comedy Central, working as a writer, correspondent, and director.

    Tagliavini had her sixth film How to Break Up With Your Douchebag, produced by Mexico’s Traziende Films, released in the United States by Tribe Releasing in 2017. Tagliavini feels like her film empowers women, remarking, “I think what I tried to do with this movie is show the women that that’s not the way to go. They should be independent. They can use their own brain.”

    Tagliavini notes her close connection with NALIP, extending over various years, “I attended to all the conferences every year, I participated in panels, I go to any other events that they have.” She has served as a mentor through the NALIP, Women in Media Conference, where she met many young aspiring women searching for advise, “somebody asked me what is success, and I said it is the possibility to give back. I think mentoring is great, I think when you know something it is your responsibility to share that knowledge with others.”

    Tagliavini encourages young Latinx content creators to never get discouraged, and keep working towards their projects, acknowledging that there are executives out there looking for the newest Latinx talent. “NALIP has helped me so much. I met an HBO executive at a NALIP conference, and then I pitched something and sold it years later. I just met a lot of interesting people at the conferences. You have to be a networker, it is who you know and who knows you.”

    To Tagliavini, NALIP is the perfect example of inclusion, “NALIP is the only place that unifies Latinos. NALIP is inclusive of all the groups, from the student Latino to the establish Latino.”

  • Ligiah Villalobos

    Posted by · October 23, 2020 3:40 PM

    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. She is best known for her work as head writer for the Nick Jr. show "Go, Diego! Go!" and well as producing and writing the Sundance film "Under the Same Moon". 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.”

    Follow Ligiah

    Twitter: @JalapenoFilms

    Instagram: charbonete