My TEDx talk on Latinx representation in Hollywood

From an early age, I wanted to become a writer. I spent the summer reading, lying on the bedroom floor with my glasses sliding down my nose. But despite my passion for storytelling, pursuing a writing career never seemed realistic. Instead, I majored in English and embarked on a career related to cause-based communications and marketing.

In those jobs, I met so many women who were creating art that was meaningful to them and their communities. They weren’t household names but they showed me I was wrong. They proved to me that writers who look like me or grew up with similar experiences deserve a chance to get our stories out there.

At the same time, I finally decided to pursue a professional writing career. I can’t help but notice the number of organizations that are embracing Latina storytelling. But there weren’t many people working on the critical side back then, and no one was focused on encouraging Latinas like me to become critics. So I co-founded an indie publication LatinaMedia.Coalong with another Latina, Nicola Schulze, to give others the push I needed — the explicit invitation to become a published critic.

Make no mistake, film criticism is broken. Based on USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, White people write 65.7 percent of movie reviews. Meanwhile, they accounts for 30% of the population. On the other hand, Black, Indigenous, Asian, and Latina women combined only write 3.7% of movie reviews, despite making up about 20% of the population. I’m assuming they don’t divide it up by group because the amount would be very small.

And it’s not just film criticism. The press in general is too blatant, with Pew Research report that only 25% of reporters are people of color (and only 8% are Hispanic, even though we make up nearly 20% of the population). In Hollywood, the problem extends around the camera, with too few women of color managing director, star, creator, director, And Writer. Many people believe that all the commitments to increasing diversity and inclusion are just PR and that not much has changed in the area of ​​narrative construction.

Stories matter. They help us make meaning of the world. They allow us to understand ourselves and others. But the lack of representation in the books I read growing up made me feel like my stories no longer mattered. Still, it’s funny how things work out. As I worked in nonprofits and met all these female storytellers, I also met a lot of activists who gave TEDx talks (some of whom were also female artist). I looked at their example and thought, I want to do that. Hosting a TEDx talk became a list item for me, something I promised myself that one day I would be ready for.

That day came last year, five years after co-founding LatinaMedia.Co and embarking on a career in entertainment journalism. From my activist circle, I know Tabby tender, a TEDx speaker and trainer who, among many other roles, leads classes to encourage more women to present TED Talks. Because yes, TED is one of a kind historically excluded. Although they have made some progress over the years, 56.2% of speakers are still white men. Biddle had seen my work and thought I might know some Latinas who were interested in the scholarship she was offering. I happen to know someone, and that person is me.

As the class draws to a close, Tabby warns that it could take a year or more, along with many applications, to get on stage. I’m relieved. Hosting a TEDx talk, where you share both your ideas and yourself, is intimidating. I’m still fighting that nagging voice inside me that says, “I’m not good enough.” Still, I started a spreadsheet of potential events, sent out some initial impressions, and applied. event.

And they chose me. Good people in TEDx Anh Dao Lach, a nonprofit staffed by volunteers and founded by current Colorado Senator Dafna Michaelson Jenet to get more women on the TED stage (see the trend here), chose me. Based on the super quick video I submitted (it had to be 40 seconds or less!) and some short essays, the event organizers selected me and 17 other women out of 175 applicants. I was excited, shocked and worried.

Then I had three months to work with them and Really impressive group of women to gather together the talk I had dreamed of givingwhere I tell my story and create more diversity among media critics.

I argue that television and movies hold a special place in our culture, influencing how we see ourselves and how we see others, which in turn affects how we construct Build your own systems and institutions. If we want this world to work for everyone, everyone needs the opportunity to tell stories and evaluate them – that’s my thesis. But I don’t stop there. I used myself as a test case for how damaging this influence can be, telling the story of how I lost and found my voice. I went on to explain how I continue to pay with LatinaMedia.Co. I then ended my talk by inviting the audience to join me, offering a three-step plan on how to change the face of media criticism and thereby change the world.

To prepare, I practiced every day. I asked friends and family members to listen. I was a guest speaker at a hands-on class at a community college. When that day came, I was still scared. But I’m not worried about my performance. I was nervous about standing before the world without the armor to share my truth. I did it anyway. I cried for a while as I left the stage, relieved and exhausted. I hugged my parents and my husband, who had come to hear me speak. And then I have to wait.

The event organizers must edit the video, and TEDx people must approve and post it. When it finally came out, I felt relieved and nervous again, this time about sharing it with the world.

Now here I am, far away from the pink carpet of my childhood bedroom. And I’m not here because I’m a brave girl. I’m here because I have so many examples of women who saw the difficulty and kept trying. I strive to be one of them. I think with this talk, with LatinaMedia.Co, with this article and the others I quote, I’m doing my part to show my community that we belong wherever we are. want to come. Because if I’ve learned anything from years of working with Latina writers and thinkers, it’s that we’re just getting started.

Cristina Escobar is a POPSUGAR contributor who writes about the intersection of race, gender and pop culture. She is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of LatinaMedia.Co, a digital publication elevating the perspectives of Latinas and gender-nonconforming Latinas in the media.

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