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Latina entrepreneur, Life 100 Podcast

Meet Rosie, the Latina entrepreneur amplifying diverse voices with “Life 100” Podcast

Meet “Rosie”, a Latina entrepreneur, content creator, and producer and host of Life 100 Podcast, a bilingual English and Spanish podcast featuring insightful stories, remarkable guests, and everyday tips for life. The podcast celebrates Hispanic diversity, creativity, and living to the fullest. 

Meet Rosie, Latina entrepreneur, content creator, and host of Life 100 Podcast. (Photo courtesy of Rosie)

A life-long learner and dreamer, Rosie came to the US from Puerto Rico to attend university in Florida. Today, she lives in Texas and is working to amplify the voices and experiences of Latinas with her platform. 

“Representation matters,” she says. “Growing up in Puerto Rico, it was a challenge to see all of our beautiful faces and great accomplishments represented in the media.”

The representation she grew up with was lacking and incomplete. She grew up surrounded by people who were a living example of diversity and inclusion. 

Her parents always provided her with examples of diverse cultures, physical attributes, professions, and more. Yet representation in the media still had a long way to go.

Now, Rosie is determined to create the things she wished existed when she was growing up. 

“I am constantly inspired by the memory of my parents. Their descendants inherited their tenacity and determination. I know they are proud of our accomplishments, of seeing us breaking barriers, moving forward, and pursuing our dreams while making the world a better place.” 

Rosie’s parents, Luis and Maria, were a big inspiration in her entrepreneurial journey and always encouraged her to follow her dreams. (Photo courtesy of Rosie).

People call Rosie “The Visionary,” because she is honest in sharing that “I don’t know how, but we will find out.” Rosie is always looking for ways to make her dreams a reality and help others on their journeys as well. Her own podcast started as one of these visionary situations where she had something to share with the world but did not yet know-how, so she found a way and made a path for herself. 

“I started podcasting as a result of what the world considered a failure, my presentation for a conference in town was not chosen,” Rosie shares. “I had worked on this presentation for weeks and it would have been a disservice to not share it so I investigated ways to share these ideas with the world.” 

Rosie’s goals were to share her presentation in a way that was easily accessible, convenient, available on-demand, highly engaging, free of charge to the listener, downloadable, and shareable. These objectives led her to the world of podcasting and soon Rosie was learning everything about the podcasting industry from the technical aspects of it, audio recording and editing, submission to listening platforms, and the business aspects of it, including forming the legal entity, marketing, promotion, and daily operations. 

Finally, on February 27, 2020, Rosie published the first episode of her podcast. Launching right before the COVID-19 pandemic hit meant there were some challenges and struggles along the way, but Rosie met those challenges head-on and persevered.

Check out: 5 Podcasts every Latina entrepreneur should be listening to 

Start your own podcast here

Rosie finally made her dreams a reality on February 27, 2020 when she launched Life 100 Podcast. (Photo courtesy of Rosie)

Follow Rosie on social media! And listen to Life 100 Podcast. 

She shares some words of advice to aspiring Latina entrepreneurs on how to navigate and overcome challenges: 

“Launching a business is a process with everyday challenges and opportunities,” she says. “Remember, your passion and commitment will be critical factors in overcoming roadblocks along the path of your new business. Yes, it will take time, money, lack of sleep, and maybe working other jobs while building your new venture.  Resources are abundant, free of charge in many cases, to guide you and inspire you along the way. Ask questions, ask for help. Practice presenting your business concept and its value proposition. Nurture your enthusiasm, and do not fall into the trap of denial.  Discipline and adaptability will play a role in your success.  Try and try again, get out of your comfort zone, keep your vision alive, and be humble enough to accept change when needed. Value progress instead of perfection. When you achieve success in your business venture, remember to help others do the same.” 

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Rosie is grateful for the opportunities her podcast has opened up for her thus far, from meeting new inspiring people to share their voices and their diversity with the world, it has been “a beautiful journey,” she says. 

She hopes to continue to amplify Latina voices and promote diversity as she expands the Life 100 Podcast into a full-time venture. 

“Your voice matters. It is never too late. Be determined to move forward. Pa’lante amigas. Go and make it happen! I look forward to sharing your story.” 


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Sandy Tejada

Actress Sandy Tejada speaks candidly on overcoming obstacles as a Latina in Hollywood

During our March 25th virtual event, Latinas & Success: What It Takes to Make it in America, speakers and panelists explored if the American Dream is still possible for Latinas and other minority women entrepreneurs, and shared the obstacles and barriers they overcame to get to the top.

In our first panel,  How to Overcome Being a Latina, a Woman and an Immigrant to Achieve Success, actress Sandy Tejada spoke candidly about her journey as a Latina in Hollywood and the struggles she has faced and overcome in the industry. 

Sandy Tejada

Latina actress and model, Sandy Tejada. (Photo courtesy of Sandy Tejada)

Proud of her Dominican heritage, Sandy was born in Manhattan, New York and raised by a single mother and is a bright, up and coming young star, attracting a lot of attention from directors who often compare her to J. Lo. Still, she is very much her own flavor. 

She has acted in productions such as FBI, playing the role of the wife of actor David Zayas;  The Deuce, co-starring James Franco;  Angelfish playing the best friend of rapper Princess Nokia, stage name of Destiny Nicole Frasqueri;  Goatface, produced by Hasan Minhaj.  

Most recently, Sandy opened the reboot of the first season of the famous original series Sex and the City called And Just Like That, on HBO Max and shared screen with Sarah Jessica Parker.  She appears in the first episode of the series and in her role, Sandy personifies the hostess of a well-known restaurant host in New York City.

“Growing up watching episodes of the Sex and the City series, I was always inspired by the free and easy character of Sarah Jessica Parker.  I never imagined that I, being Afro-Latina, would participate in this program that would become a cultural phenomenon after so many years,” said Sandy. 

Her mother was a huge influence in her life, bestowing upon her the wisdom to achieve the American dream, and to seize control of her own destiny. Her mother instilled in her an appreciation for learning, encouraging her to first focus on her education as a solid foundation to then pursue her dreams. 

And Sandy’s big dream was to perform. As a young girl, Sandy loved acting and making people laugh. She would reenact scenes from popular Hispanic shows for her family and was always drawn to fun, interesting roles. 

“I always wanted to play the roles where they switched it up,” she said during the Latina & Success panel. 

Acting was also a way to escape the often turbulent times growing up in a single-parent immigrant household. 

Still, despite challenges, Sandy was determined to succeed and she excelled in everything she set her mind to. Modeling, dancing, swimming, basketball, and softball were some of the ways that Sandy got to show off her natural talents. 

She attended St. Francis College on a four year Presidential Academic Scholarship, and majored in Communications with a concentration in Film and Broadcasting. At St. Francis she was exposed to the world of television, theatre and film, which allowed her to further pursue her love and passion for acting. 

 

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“Not Spanish-looking enough for roles”

As she began breaking out into the industry, Sandy soon found herself facing new challenges, primarily around diversity and inclusion. One of her biggest on-going challenges is that she is often not considered for roles based on her looks. Due to stereotypes in the industry, many do not consider her to “look Spanish enough” for Latina roles. Casting directors expect a certain stereotypical look for Latina characters, but Sandy does not fit this rigid mold. 

“For Hollywood, when you watch TV and film, it’s basically a Latin role requires someone with dark hair, dark eyes, pale skin. And so my dad was Black and my mom was white and I look like this, I’m mixed,” said Sandy. “People don’t often believe me when I tell them I’m Dominican. Dominicans don’t even believe me that I’m Dominican. That’s the biggest challenge I have is that I’m not Salma Hayek or Penelope Cruz looking, I’m Afro-Latina.” 

She has been told she is not white enough for roles or not biracial enough for roles and not Spanish enough for roles. She has tried to change herself to fit the mold, wearing wigs and trying to lighten her skin but still the struggle to fit in and get roles continues. This struggle is part of a larger problem within Hollywood and the work that still needs to be done to expand diversity and inclusion for actors. 

Watch the full panel below

Facing these obstacles has motivated Sandy to push for greater representation and diversity in media. 

“My greatest wish is to pave the way for greater representation of Latinxs in film and television,” Sandy said.

To other Latinas looking to get into the industry, Sandy emphasizes the power of giving back. Together we can all find success and realize the American Dream.  

“To get a little you have to give a little,” she said. “And pay it forward. So if I help you, you help the next Latina and then we can all grow together and that’s how we can become stronger and more successful together.” 

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Grammys 2022

Grammys 2022 Recap: Latin American wins and the issue of Global diversity 

Yesterday’s 64th Annual Grammy Awards gathered stars and industry leaders to honor the best in music. Throughout the awards we had our eye on all the Latin and Hispanic artists recognized. 

In the Latin categories winning artists included Eliane Elias (feat. Chick Corea and Chucho Valdés) winning Best Latin Jazz Album, Alex Cuba for Best Latin Pop Album, Bad Bunny for Best Música Urbana Album, Juanes for Best Latin Rock or Alternative Album, Vicente Fernández for Best Regional Mexican Music Album, and Rubén Blades for Best Tropical Latin Album. 

Young Filipino-American singer-songwriter Olivia Rodrigo also took the stage for three wins for Best New Artist, Best Solo Performance, and Best Pop Vocal Album. 

Olivia Rodrigo

Olivia Rodrigo, Grammys 2022. (Photo source: Recording Academy / Grammys on YouTube)

Additionally, the night saw performances by J Balvin, Maria Becerra, Aymée Nuviola, Rachel Zegler, Silk Sonic. 

In 2020, the Grammys decided to address some of these concerns by changing the name of their “Best World Music” category to “Best Global Music.” 

A statement, the Recording Academy said, “as we continue to embrace a truly global mindset … The change symbolizes a departure from the connotations of colonialism, folk, and ‘non-American’ that the former term embodied while adapting to current listening trends and cultural evolution among the diverse communities it may represent.”

Additionally, the Recording Academy renamed the “Best Urban Contemporary Album” category to “Best Progressive R&B Album”, since the term “urban” has become outdated and is now an “inappropriate descriptor of Black music.” However, the term continues to be used in the Latin category for “Best Música Urbana Album.” 

This year’s star-studded event certainly appeared more diverse, with both winners and performers reflecting the award show’s push in recent years to be more inclusive. However, despite recent changes, the issue of diversity and representation continues to be at the forefront of conversation surrounding the award show and many continue to criticize their minimal efforts to correct years of inequality. 

These changes, especially the change to the World Music category have received mixed responses. Many find these changes to be insubstantial and some have even argued the change to “Global” music hurts international artists. 

In the article “How not to decolonise the Grammys” author Mark LeVine breaks down the issue pointing out that the new “global” category will take the focus away from celebrating cultural music with diverse roots and traditions. The new category will include any global artist, meaning diverse artists who struggled to break out in other categories will now also have to compete against global superstars.

What was once a category to celebrate diverse music outside of “Western” norms, may now become a generalized category that many fear will become saturated with pop and commercialized music. 

In an NPR op-ed, author Ian Brennan shares his views on the issue and quotes Angelique Kidjo, one of the world’s most recognized performers in the recently changed category, with multiple nominations and wins under her belt. 

 

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Angelique Kidjo shares her vision regarding the issue of diversity and representation in the Grammys, saying: “We’ve got to educate people to understand that it’s not just commercial music that is ‘music.’ We have music in the global category that is the roots of all the commercial music that people are listening to. It’s important to go back and find out where the commercial music you are listening to comes from.

“We need to bring the topic of global music to the forefront of the Grammys. We need to have a constant discussion to improve and get better. The whole world is watching.”

Latin American artists are lucky to have multiple categories just for their music, but other ethnic groups must fight for recognition in the one “Global” category the awards show offers. Instead of making categories more general, many feel creating more categories would be more beneficial to fully celebrate diverse talent. Like the multiple Latin American categories, other cultures could have their own categories as well, so that more talent can be recognized. 

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NBCU Academy announces recipients of inaugural ‘Original Voices’ Fellowship to support diverse filmmakers

NBCU Academy and NBC News Studios together named seven groundbreaking filmmakers for the first inaugural Original Voices fellowship early last week. From a diverse range of backgrounds, each documentarian will receive $45,000 in grants and a one-year fellowship to support their feature-length nonfiction films in all stages of production, including access to archival research, individually tailored yearlong mentorship, story and edit consultations, distribution strategy discussions, marketing and publicity guidance, production resources, and exposure to NBC News Studios’ executives and journalists.

This year’s inaugural cohort represents a diverse group of filmmakers telling diverse and inclusive stories. In an age where authentic representation and visibility in media for minority groups matters more than ever, this push by NBCU Academy and NBC New Studios to support diverse filmmakers and bring their stories to the mainstream media is incredibly important. Projects from this first cohort include coming-of-age stories that transcend borders, tales of bravery and courage in the face of institutional corruption, accounts of nascent parenthood and belonging, and films that explore Blackness, Latinx identity, immigration, gender, disability, and more.  

“We are so excited to work with seven incredibly gifted, original voices who are committed to highlighting some of the most important social issues of our time,” said Yvette Miley, Senior Vice President, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion for NBCUniversal News Group. “The lived-experiences of these fellows provide a unique foundation for powerful storytelling.”

Meet the Original Voices fellowship recipients and their projects 

Original Voices Fellowship, Hummingbirds

A still from Hummingbirds. (Image Source)

Hummingbirds, Directed by Silvia Castaños, Estefania Contreras, Miguel Drake McLaughlin, Diane Ng, Ana Rodriguez-Falco, Jillian Schlesinger, Produced by Leslie Benavides, Miguel Drake McLaughlin, Ana Rodriguez-Falco, Jillian Schlesinger 

In a collaborative coming-of-age film, inseparable best friends Silvia and Beba emerge at night to escape the cruel summer heat of their Texas border town, wandering empty streets in search of inspiration, adventure, and a sense of belonging. When forces beyond their control threaten their shared dreams and they are faced with an uncertain future, they take a stand and hold onto what they can—the moment and each other.

I Didn’t See You There, Directed by Reid Davenport, Produced by Keith Wilson 

Spurred by the spectacle of a circus tent that goes up outside his Oakland apartment, a disabled filmmaker launches into an unflinching meditation on freakdom, (in)visibility, and the pursuit of individual agency. Shot entirely from his literal physical perspective, both from his wheelchair and his two feet, the filmmaker’s gaze and thoughts oscillate between how he is seen, his distant family, and whether his films have fallen into the legacy of the Freak Show.

Original Voices Fellowship

Bloodthicker director, Zac Manuel. (Image Source)

Bloodthicker, Directed by Zac Manuel, Produced by Chris Haney

A coming-of-age documentary about three childhood friends navigating adulthood while living in the shadows of their famous fathers. Filmed over 4 years, the film is an intimate portrait of how three young musicians come to define themselves in the presence and absence of their fathers.

La Flaca, Directed by Jessica Chermayeff and Ana Veselic, Produced by Alba Jaramillo 

A teenager’s flight from Honduras through Central America suddenly snaps into focus when she gives birth on US soil — launching an epic coming-of-age tale of assimilation in America.

Untitled, Directed by Sura Malluoh, Produced by Laura Poitras and Yoni Golijov, Cinematography by Jason D’Souza

Two friends uncover a conflict that divides their already embattled community. Told from all sides, with unprecedented access to courtrooms, anonymous sources and community leaders, this observational film unfolds in real time.

Original Voices Fellowship

A still from Original Voices Fellowship project, MIJA. (Image source)

MIJA, Directed by Isabel Castro, produced by Tabs Breese and Yesenia Tlahuel

Doris Muñoz is an ambitious music manager whose undocumented family depends on her ability to discover aspiring pop stars. Mija dives into the world of a young woman and a community of first-generation musicians that are hustling harder than anyone because “making it” isn’t just a dream—it’s a necessity.

Untitled, Directed by Michael Premo, Produced by Rachel Falcone 

The Original Voices fellows were selected by a distinguished jury of three independent, critically acclaimed documentary filmmakers: Dawn Porter, Nanfu Wang and Cristina Costantini. Jeanelle Augustin is Manager, Film Fellowships and Artist Development overseeing the curation and design of the Original Voices fellowship. 

“These independent filmmakers embody creativity, integrity and inclusivity — core qualities that make for a great storyteller,” said Molly O’Brien, Head of Documentary, NBC News Studios. “NBC News Studios, along with the jury, are proud to support the fellows and help bring their directorial vision to life.” 

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NBCU Academy is a new, innovative, multiplatform journalism training and development program launched by NBCUniversal News Group. The initiative provides four-year university and community college students scholarships, education, on-campus training, online programming, funding for accredited journalism programs and access to world-class journalists from NBC News, MSNBC, CNBC and Telemundo. Currently, NBCU Academy is partnered with 17 academic universities, community colleges and institutions, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-Serving Institutions and colleges with significant Latino, Asian American and Pacific Islander, Black, Indigenous and tribal populations – reaching students from underrepresented groups including those from diverse racial, ethnic, sexual orientation, gender identity, ability, economic, and geographic backgrounds.

NBC News Studios is a division of NBC News that specializes in documentary storytelling. Working with Studios offers producers and filmmakers access to everything our legacy news organization has to offer: eight decades of TV and radio archive; a global network of journalists; and rich trove of stories. Our team has decades of experience in the TV and documentary worlds and has been honored with multiple Emmy, Peabody and DuPont awards. Our recent collaboration with Focus Features, Dawn Porter’s The Way I See It, was the highest rated non-news program in MSNBC’s 25-year history and the winner of the best documentary feature at the New York Film Critics Online awards.

“In the Heights” colorism controversy and why accurate representation is important

Recently, the newly released film adaption of Lin Manuel Miranda’s Broadway musical–In the Heights–has received some controversy regarding the film’s casting choices and lack of dark-skinned Afro-Latinx actors, with critics citing colorism as the root cause of the inaccurate representation of the historic NYC neighborhood.

In the Heights, colorism controversy

In the Heights faces blacklash regarding colorism controversy. (Image Source)

Set in the New York City neighborhood of Washington Heights, the film’s themes celebrate diversity and identity. However, audiences were quick to notice the lack of dark-skinned Latinos in lead roles. Instead, all of the main Latinx characters are portrayed by light-skinned or white-passing actors. Viewers took to social media to voice their feelings and bring attention to the longstanding issue of colorism in Hollywood. 

In the Heights follows the lives of various Latinx characters living in Washington Heights, weaving their stories together in a celebration of Latin pride and Latinx stories. However, the film adaptation notably lacks dark-skinned Afro-Latinx main characters, creating an inaccurate portrayal of the NYC neighborhood. Described as a “melting pot” by In the Heights actress Melissa Barrera, Washington Heights, the film fails to portray an accurate “mosaic of this community.” 

While the film maintains a high rating on critic site, Rotten Tomatoes, and has favored well with general audiences, the issue of colorism remains a valid criticism and an important conversation to be had. 

Commenting on the controversy, actress Melissa Barrera said that “the audition process, which was a long audition process, there were a lot of Afro-Latinos there. A lot of darker skinned people. And I think they were looking for just the right people for the roles. For the person that embodied each character in the fullest extent,” clarifying, “Because the cast ended up being us, and because Washington Heights is a melting pot of Black and Latinx people, Jon and Lin wanted the dancers and the big numbers to feel very truthful to what the community looks like.”

It is true that there were dark-skinned performers in the group numbers as background dancers, but this only further highlights the key issue: there were none in lead roles. To dark-skinned Afro-Latinx viewers this sends the message that their lives and their stories are not important. It tells them that they are only “background” characters in the lives of light-skinned and white people. The film’s only dark-skinned character is Benny, played by non-Latino actor Corey Hawkins. In the musical, Benny pursues a romance with Nina, though he is viewed as an outsider by Nina’s father because he is not Latino. Being the only dark-skinned character in the main cast, this sends another message to audiences, that dark-skinned people are “outsiders” or don’t belong in Latino communities, which could not be farther from the truth. 

In our current socio-political climate, where race issues are at the forefront, this significant lack of dark-skinned Afto-Latinx actors in a film about a historically diversey neighborhood cannot be ignored. Movements like Black Lives Matter have made it clear that there is still so much work to be done regarding the treatment of Black lives in our society. The lack of visibility of Black lives and Black stories in our media is just one of many symptoms of systemic racism. Just as systemic racism prevents Black individuals from accessing resources, education, and employment due to long standing biases ingrained in our culture, Hollywood, too, is affected. 

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As Melissa Barrera pointed out in her statement, the audition process included many Afro-Latinx actors auditioning for lead roles. However, not a single one made it to the big screen. Why? Some may say it was down to talent, but there are many, many talented dark-skinned actors in Hollywood, so one has to wonder why they were not given the same opportunity to star in the film as light-skinned and white Latinx actors. 

In the Heights creator and American actor, singer, songwriter, rapper, producer, and playwright, Lin Manuel Miranda. (Image Source)

In a Twitter statement addressing the colorism controversy, Lin Manuel Miranda expressed his deep apology for the lack of dark-skinned Afro-Latinx representation in the film. 

“I started writing In the Heights because I didn’t feel seen,” he says. “And over the past 20 years all I wanted was for us — ALL of us — to feel seen. I’m seeing the discussion around Afro-Latino representation in our film this weekend, and it is clear that many in our dark-skinned Afro-Latino community don’t feel sufficiently represented within it, particularly among the leading roles. I can hear the hurt and frustration over colorism, of feeling unseen in the feedback. I hear that, without sufficient dark-skinned Afro-Latino representation, the world feels extractive of the community we wanted so much to represent with pride and joy.”

“In trying to paint a mosaic of this community, we fell short. I’m truly sorry. I’m learning from the feedback, I thank you for raising it, and I’m listening. I’m trying to hold space for both the incredible pride in the movie we made and be accountable for our shortcomings. Thank you for your honest feedback. I promise to do better in my future projects, and I’m dedicated to the learning and evolving we all have to do to make sure we are honoring our diverse and vibrant community.”