Gabby Rivera got her love for writing from her mother, a New York City kindergarten teacher who made sure her daughter was reading and writing at a young age.
“My mom’s always been an avid reader, so reading was the thing we were allowed to do all the time, and I’ve just been writing ever since,” Rivera told NBC Out.
Rivera doesn’t just write — she breaks barriers. Earlier this year, she brought the world Marvel’s first comic series centered around a lesbian Latina superhero.
Marvel tapped Rivera to write a new comic series for America Chavez, a character first introduced to the Marvel universe back in 2011. Having long been a fan of strong, female superheroes like Storm and Rogue of the X-Men franchise, Rivera was excited to take on the challenge of expanding on America’s story.
America has a difficult past to contend with, including be exiled from her homeland, but Rivera said it was important for her that the character’s narrative still be fun and exciting.
“It’s important to talk about the intersecting identities and her being queer and Latina … but so much of content around people of color is centered in oppression or political conversations,” Rivera said, adding that America’s story will be one where the reader can escape to a new world full of love, adventure and butt-kicking.
America Chavez isn’t the only queer Latina protagonist Rivera has shared with readers. Last year, Rivera debuted her novel, “Juliet Takes a Breath,” which centers on a queer, Puerto Rican, young writer from the Bronx. Rivera described Juliet as “someone who is thick-bodied, a little nerdy and pretty queer and still totally confident.”
Rivera hopes “young brown girls can see themselves” in Juliet at a time when inspirational characters of color are few and far between. “I want the book to provide not just a mirror, but open windows where the possibilities are endless,” she added.
Continue onto NBC News to read more about Rivera and her work in the LGBT community.
Along with Selena Gomez, Jenna Ortega, Aubrey Plaza, Diego Calva and others, Latinos are represented in about half the award categories in this year’s Golden Globes.
Latinos are represented in about half the award categories in this year’s Golden Globes, including nine nominations for Latino performers and filmmakers.
Their nominations showcase a younger generation of Hollywood, given that six of them are under the age of 40. They also echo a larger nationwide pattern showing Latinos as the second youngest racial or ethnic groups in the U.S., with a median age of 30.
Several of them landed their first Golden Globe nominations this year, most of them for main roles in film or TV.
“The conversation this year is, we made it into the lead,” said Jack Rico, a Latino film critic. If enough Latinos win in their respective categories, it could set the tone for the rest of the awards season.
“We could have one of the best years for Hispanic actors,” said Rico.
Actor Jenna Ortega could become the youngest person to win a Golden Globe for best performance by an actress in a musical or comedy TV series.
Ortega, 20, earned her first Golden Globe nomination for her captivating performance as Wednesday Addams in the Netflix comedy horror series “Wednesday,” which follows the iconic “Addams Family” character’s journey at Nevermore Academy as she investigates a murder spree.
Of Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage, Ortega went viral on TikTok as many on the social media platform tried to recreate one of the show’s most memorable scenes: a dance sequence showing Wednesday ghoulishly grooving to The Cramps’ “Goo Goo Muck” at Nevermore Academy’s annual Rave’N dance.
The show became the second most-watched series on Netflix after it premiered in November. It was also nominated for best TV musical or comedy TV series.
Ortega has said she choreographed the sequence despite not having any previous dance experience. She was inspired by such punk and rock performers as Nina Hagen and Siouxsie and the Banshees, as well as by watching archival footage of goth kids club dancing in the 1980s.
Another first-time nominee in the same category as Ortega is Selena Gomez.
Gomez, 30, was nominated for her performance as Mabel Mora in Hulu’s true crime satire “Only Murders in the Building.” The nomination serves as vindication over last year, when Gomez’s co-stars Martin Short and Steve Martin received acting nominations and she did not. Short and Martin also received acting nominations this year.
Gomez, who has roots in Mexico, also serves as an executive producer for the show alongside her co-stars.
“Only Murders in the Building” centers on three true-crime obsessed New York City neighbors who suddenly find themselves caught up in a murder mystery. The show was also nominated for best musical or comedy TV series.
Also joining the club of first-time Latino Golden Globe nominees are Aubrey Plaza, Diego Calva and Diego Luna.
Plaza, 38, who is half Puerto-Rican, was nominated for best supporting actress in a limited series for her performance as Harper in HBO Max’s “The White Lotus,” which follows the exploits of various guests and employees at a luxurious Sicilian resort.
Her deadpan humor and sarcasm on “White Lotus” made her a fan favorite, alongside fellow cast mates Jennifer Coolidge and F. Murray Abraham, who were also nominated for their supporting roles. The show was also nominated for best limited series made for TV.
It’s all about talent, education, and the willingness to take risks. Music is meant to inspire, and a new wave of fresh, exciting, ridiculously talented Latino artists understands this fact.
Maria Isabel, Destiny Rogers, and Jay Wheeler are up-and-coming singer-songwriters with the talent and desire to achieve greatness. This next class of stars succeeded by tapping into education to make their dreams come true—and they’ve inspired their fans and followers in the process.
The three artists embody the spirit of the McDonald’s HACER National Scholarship, established in 1985. The goal of the scholarship is to help Latino students break barriers and make their parents and those around them proud. Over the years, McDonald’s has helped more than 17,000 Latino students—and given out more than $32 million—through the HACER program. The initiative is especially important in tough times like we’re facing now. Given the state of the world, it’s crucial for young people to keep moving forward and do more.
Isabel, Rogers, and Wheeler are certainly moving in the right direction. But they come from different places and represent the breadth of the Latino diaspora. Isabel grew up in Queens, New York, as the daughter of parents from the Dominican Republic, while Wheeler was born and raised in Salinas, Puerto Rico. Rogers, who is half Mexican on her mother’s side, held down the West Coast, growing up in Lodi, California. They all knew early on that creating music was in their future.
Dreams of rocking stages don’t always line up with the plans of parents who want more practical, and safer, careers for their children. Isabel, who dropped her debut EP, Stuck In The Sky, in October 2020, seamlessly blends her Dominican ancestry’s bachata and merengue with R&B and hip-hop and her lush vocals. She is particularly thankful that her parents had no issue supporting her aspirations.
“My parents took four-year-old me seriously when I said I was going to become a singer,” says Isabel, who attended NYU. “They never argued with that dream or told me I had to be anything different. Obviously, I had to go to school, get good grades, and all that stuff, but it was never a matter of like, pick something. I think with any first-generation kid watching your parents make sacrifices or work extra hours or whatever it may be to make it possible for you to do what you want to do, I think that was the biggest motivating force to be successful.”
While Isabel’s parents had faith in her talents, Wheeler’s classmates in school were less kind. The reggaeton crooner has spoken candidly about the bullying he faced, but he was still able to persevere and become a certified star. By posting his music on the Internet, Wheeler jump started his career. Fans dubbed him “La Voz Favorita,” and he earned praise and hands-on guidance from reggaeton legend DJ Nelson, who executive produced his two critically acclaimed albums: 2019’s Platónico and 2020’s Platónicos.
Those school bullies couldn’t knock Wheeler off his path. “I always loved music [but] I knew that it was going to be hard,” he says. “Living for something that you love is harder. I learned English in school and watching TV and movies. I knew at some point in my life I wanted to do something in the English world because [I have] a lot of respect for American music. A lot of kids [take education] for granted—I don’t know need to learn this, I don’t need to learn that—but when you get older, you realize that all the things that they gave you, you do need to educate yourself in everything, because life puts you in a different position everyday.”
Amara La Negra, singer, reality show star and rapper, is known for embracing her afro and her Blackness. But despite all her success, there’s one battle she’s always had to fight: defending her Afro-Latin Blackness. “I still feel there’s a lot of African Americans that don’t even know that there’s other parts in the world where there’s people like us and don’t speak English,” she told ABC News. “We’re not all African Americans. We are diverse in every single possible way you can imagine.” In a society that clings to categorizing people, Amara La Negra says she’s always having to explain herself.
Born Diana Danelys De Los Santos to Dominican parents, sometimes Amara La Negra finds herself being questioned by African Americans about Ber blackness, like on the radio show “The Breakfast Club.” “Simplify it for me, what exactly is the struggle that you’re facing?” Charlamagne Tha God, one of the show’s hosts, asked her. “You sure it’s not in your mind?” She’s also faced questions from other Latinos, including some in her home state of Florida, who she says questioned why she would participate in a Black Lives Matter march in Miami.
“They were like, ‘Why are you out there protesting? You’re not Black. You have to pick. Are you Latina? You Dominican? Are you Black? You kind of have to pick,’” Amara La Negra told ABC News. “They were saying a lot of negative things toward me. I guess that there was a part of them that didn’t understand how important this is. … It’s a humanity thing.”
In the wake of George Floyd’s death and a renewed outrage over racial inequality in America, there’s a growing spotlight illuminating the diversity of Blackness in the U.S. It’s a lesson that educator Jennifer Whyte says she’s been teaching for years.
The Spanish teacher is the only Latina and the only teacher of color at The Donoho School in Anniston, Alabama. In the rural South, she makes it a point to educate her students about Afro-Latin culture.
“I need to be true to myself. … I know who I am as a Spanish teacher and teaching culture,” Whyte told ABC News. “We’re the ones that teach culture. We’re the ones that bring up these uncomfortable conversations about race and history, too, because we do history. So it’s like we bring up these uncomfortable conversations about race, colorism.”
Pedro Noguera, dean of the University of Southern California Rossier School of Education, focuses on race and policy and believes the United States’ historically poor treatment of African Americans created a massive divide among Latino immigrants — even those who are Black.
“When many Latin Americans come to this country, there’s a tendency to try to distance themselves from Black Americans. And that’s true even among people who, phenotypically from Latin America, are Black,” Noguera said. “You think about American baseball, someone like Big Poppy, the great slugger from the [Boston] Red Sox, who is clearly Black, very dark-skinned, does not identify as Black. [He] identifies as Dominican, as if that were separate somehow from being Black.” Adding to the complexities in the United States, the Latino community encompasses families from many different countries.
“So many Latinos identify more with nationality. They will say, I’m from El Salvador. I am from Panama,” Noguera said. “Latino doesn’t mean a whole lot. It only means something to second- and third-generation Latinos who’ve been in America who understand the way race in America works. And so they will claim a Latino identity. But in their identity, there’s incredible diversity.”
In the U.S., most people strictly think African American when they hear of someone who is “Black,” but according to the the Slave Voyages Project, during the colonial period, about 15 times as many slaves were taken to Latin America than the United States.
Almost nine years ago, Jessica Torres launched a style blog to help build her resume as an aspiring fashion journalist. A self-described plus-sized Latina from the Bronx, she didn’t see herself reflected among staffers at the magazine where she interned. She eventually came to the conclusion that the path to success would require striking out on her own.
Today, Torres has 138,000 Instagram followers. Instead of writing stories, she’s paid by the likes of Sephora and Ugg to promote their products, raking in as much as $25,000 for posts and projects on behalf of some brands. But Torres isn’t your typical online influencer: she’s part of a wave of Latinas looking to expand their online footprint and boost corporate respect for one of the largest U.S. consumer demographics.
Especially in the realm of beauty products, Hispanics are increasingly driving and shaping the industry as consumers and business owners. In 2020, Latinos spent 13% more than the average shopper on beauty and personal care, according to research firm NielsenIQ. And there’s a growing number of internet personalities and Hispanic-owned startups getting the message out, from influencer Mariale Marrero and her 6 million Instagram followers to Treslúce Beauty, a makeup brand launched in June by Billboard top 5 Latin female artist Becky G.
Now 31, Torres finally does see herself—she’s part of a burgeoning group of Hispanic entrepreneurs and social media stars. “It’s been really cool to see how much power Latinos are having—and taking,” Torres, who is Ecuadorian-American, said. “It’s game changing.”
This growing prominence in the retail space has accelerated a push to dispel media portrayals that often ignore the diversity and evolving identity of Latinos. Hispanics boast a wide range of skin tones and hair types, which means that no single commercial approach can meet all beauty needs.
“There’s still a lot of education that needs to be done,” said Marrero, who was born in Venezuela and last year launched an eye and cheek palette in collaboration with Too Faced. She said there’s still an outdated idea “of what a Hispanic or Latina has to look like.”
Natasha Pongonis is the chief executive officer of multicultural consumer research firm O.Y.E. and a partner at marketing agency Nativa. She said most advertisements featuring Hispanic models don’t reflect the wide spectrum of Latino looks, like hairstyles ranging from locks in tight curls to pin-straight. The range of shades for certain skincare and makeup products also remains limited, while marketing campaigns by big skincare companies often feature models with lighter complexions, Pongonis said.
Representation of Hispanics in content across platforms was 6% in 2020, according to analytics company Nielsen, even though they make up almost 19% of the U.S. population. And when Hispanics do appear online or in a magazine, they’re often depicted as “exotic,” according to Deyanira Rojas-Sosa, an associate professor at the State University of New York at New Paltz.
Indigenous and Afro-Latino people in particular get little representation in personal care and makeup ads, said Danielle Alvarez, founder of public relations firm The Bonita Project.
Despite the rise of Hispanic-owned brands, they’re still a small part of the beauty market. In a recent panel featuring Latino entrepreneurs by think tank Ready to Beauty, 88% said improved access to capital was critical to expanding the sector. But some entrepreneurs are done waiting for investors.
“I think many people are going ‘well, what the heck?’ I might as well just do it myself,’” said Margarita Arriagada, who served as Sephora’s chief merchant for nine years.
Arriagada, 68, launched refillable-lipstick company Valdé Beauty in the fall of 2020. The name is an homage to her mother, Carolina Valdelomar, who immigrated with her children from Peru. She always wore lipstick as a “glamorous coat of armor” while working three jobs to make ends meet, Arriagada said.
Bloomberg Digital: Why Skin Lightening Is Big Business In Some Parts of the World
Then there’s Latina music star Rebbeca Marie Gomez, better known as Becky G. Her song “Mayores,” featuring Puerto Rican sensation Bad Bunny, has racked up more than two billion views on YouTube.
A former CoverGirl, the 24-year-old realized she didn’t just want to be one mainstream brand’s Hispanic face, saying she’d rather show that Latinas could start their own product lines and craft their own narratives. Like Torres, she too saw minimal representation of people like herself in the media and advertising.
These Latina designers are carving out space in the fashion and arts community by bringing their cultural backgrounds to their clothing, and accessory designs, among other creations. Their work has gained international attention, and many attribute this success to the inspiration they’ve derived from their cultural backgrounds. Here are five visionary Latina designers you should know about:
1. Patty Delgado
At 30 years old, Patty Delgado already has founder and CEO in her title after starting Hija de tu Madre, a lifestyle brand for which she also acts as a designer. Hija de tu Madre sells clothing, accessories, and stationary and is intended to celebrate the modern Latina community.
“I started the company back in 2016 during the Trump era and I really wanted to create a safe space for folks to celebrate their Latina identity and really take up space and create this new narrative of what it means to be Latina, despite all the negative stereotypes that were like really dangerous during that era,” Delgado told NowThis.
Delgado was born in Los Angeles, California, and is the daughter of two Mexican immigrants. As a self-taught designer, Delgado said she was inspired to start the line as a way to connect to her own heritage and to communicate that “being Latina isn’t a one size fits all narrative.”
“I’ve always struggled with my own identity. Like never really fitting in with my Mexican side, but also not really knowing what it means to be American,” Delgado continued. “And I think that this brand really celebrates these nuances.”
2. Johanna Ortiz
Elegant couture designed by Johanna Ortiz’s label hangs in stores across the world, including major names like Neiman Marcus andBergdorf Goodman, and online at Net-a-Porter. Jennifer Lopez was photographed wearing one of her designs recently while on vacation. But before Ortiz gained international recognition, she brought her talent and business back to her home country, Colombia. Ortiz graduated from the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale in Florida before returning to her home city of Cali, Colombia to start her brand in 2001. After showcasing her designs in Colombia’s fashion scene for many years, Ortiz was given the chance in 2014 to create a collection for Moda Operandi.
Ortiz’s designs are based on her Colombian heritage and incorporate ruffles and beautiful prints. In an interview with Vogue, she said her own experience with fashion played a role in how she creates clothes: “I’m Latina, so I’m short and curvy – I’m not like the models!”
Ortiz also opened up a training program in Colombia through whichshe offers sewing and embroidery courses for people in the community.
“We have plenty of talented hands,” Ortiz told Vogue. “But they haven’t been exposed to learning.”
3. Cristina Palomo-Nelson
As a co-founder and designer for FRĒDA SALVADOR, Palomo-Nelson made sure the products for her shoe company were made in her home country of El Salvador, along with her co-founder’s country of origin, Spain. Palomo-Nelson and Megan Papay launched FRĒDA SALVADOR in 2012 with the idea to combine style with comfort in quality shoes.
“We focused on updating and modernizing classic styles like oxfords, loafers and jodhpur boots,” Palomo-Nelson told San Francisco Magazine.
Palomo-Nelson grew up in El Salvador and comes from a family of shoemakers. The design process for FRĒDA SALVADOR starts in California, where the two founders now live. The designs are then brought to life by their family factories in El Salvador and Spain.
4. Luiny Rivera
Luiny Rivera was initially studying to become a teacher when she realized designing jewelry was her true passion. The Puerto Rican native, whose creative skills have been mostly self-taught, moved to New York City after discovering her knack for upcycling jewelry and design. “It wasn’t in my plan to become a jewelry designer. lt just happened and I realized that I was good at it,” Rivera told Journal NYC. “Now I am attached forever to something that I love to do. I keep a balance on what really inspires me and what’s on trend to maintain the uniqueness of my line.”
Rivera was designing jewelry for Urban Outfitters and Free People when she decided to launch her own brand — Luiny. The designer said she likes to be in full creative control of the whole process; from conception and design to photographing the products and acting as the art director. Rivera’s brand also uses recycled metals and creates her jewelry using sustainable methods.
5. Cristina Pineda
Christina Pineda is the co-founder of Pineda Covalin, a clothing and accessories brand dedicated to bringing Mexican and Latin American-inspired designs to life. The fashion house was created in 1996 by Pineda and Ricardo Covalin in Mexico City. Now, the brand has a presence in North America, Asia, and Europe. The intricate designs and colors are rooted in Pineda’s Mexican background and were initially sold in museums and later in hotels. Pineda Covalin now sells men’s and women’s clothing, bags, scarves, ties, and more. Many of the brand’s designs draw inspiration from indigienous people, including the Mayans and Zapotecs.
Pineda has an extensive background in design, with a bachelor’s degree in textile design, along with a master’s degree in art history. Her portfolio extends even further beyond her brand: Pineda was selected to create a character called Xico the Xoloitzcuintle, a hairless dog breed believed to date back to the ancient Aztecs,as a mascot for Mexico. Pineda also works with philanthropic groups including Discovering Latin America, which promotes the culture and arts of Latina people.
Click here to read the full article on Now This Is News.
It may come as a surprise that radio personality Geena the Latina — formally Geena Aguilar — never pictured herself on the air. If it wasn’t for a morning show audition 15 years ago that brought her to the city she considered a second home, San Diego might have missed out on one of the market’s more popular radio hosts.
While her path began as an intern at a Los Angeles radio station in college, she was working as a sales associate for a television station after college, when her two brothers were shot and killed within five months of each other.
“After that, I stopped working altogether for a year because I was so depressed. My old boss from the radio station called me after that year and told me to come back to the station. He said I could work as little or as much as I wanted. He just wanted to get me out of the house,” she says. “I am forever thankful to him for that.”
Aguilar threw herself into her work, befriending colleagues, working late hours and pitching in to help out and learn any aspect of the job that needed an extra pair of hands. Although she was initially resistant to the spotlight that came with the job, it’s helped her realize that her voice matters, and she’s used it to help others.
One of those ways is through her Girls Empowerment Conference with the Positive Movement Foundation. The foundation is a San Diego nonprofit that works with schools and other organizations to provide educational tools, empowerment events, and other resources to vulnerable children. They’re hosting their “Cocktails for a Cause” fundraiser 6 to 10 p.m. today at 1899 McKee St., San Diego. The Girls Empowerment Conference is one of the beneficiaries of the event.
Aguilar is an on-air personality at Channel 933, co-host of “The Geena the Latina and Frankie V Morning Show,” and lives in the East Village section of downtown San Diego. She took some time to talk about her radio career, the Girls Empowerment Conference, and finding her voice.
Q: Most of us who listen to the radio know you as Geena the Latina on Channel 93.3. What led you to choose a career in radio?
A: When I started out as an intern at 102.7 KIIS FM in Los Angeles during college, I was eventually hired in the promotions department, and continued working there throughout college. I never wanted to be on the air; I worked there because it was fun and all of my friends worked there. I always wanted to work in the entertainment industry, but I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do. I thought of myself as more of a behind-the-scenes person.
[After the deaths of her brothers] I started working at the radio station again and completely threw myself into everything I could do there, probably just to keep myself busy. I’d stay at the station all day long, talking to people, helping whoever needed help, or sitting in on show meetings. I became the street reporter for the station and worked red carpet events, which eventually led to morning shows asking me to audition. I didn’t want to audition because I still didn’t think that being on the air could be a career, but one of those auditions was for a morning show in San Diego and I just loved San Diego. I grew up visiting the city, all of my friends had attended college here, and I’d already felt like San Diego was a second home. I got the job 15 years ago and I’ve been here ever since!
After being on Channel 933 for a year, I wanted to quit because I couldn’t handle all of the negative comments, messages, and emails. I hated the spotlight (and still don’t love it), but one morning, I shared the story about what happened to my brothers, and the response was overwhelmingly supportive. People were saying how much my story touched them, helped them, or how they related to me because of it. I finally realized that maybe I was supposed to be on the radio. If people listened to me when I had something serious to say, then I could put up with all of that other stuff. I realized that it was important to have a voice about things that mattered, and there was no bigger platform than on one of the biggest radio stations in San Diego, talking to a million people a week.
Q: Can you tell us about how you came to be known on air as “Geena the Latina,” and what it means to you to represent this part of your identity and culture?
A: When I first started, they were trying to think of a catchy name for me. At the time, there weren’t many Latinos on the radio, if any. They wanted a name that captured who I was, but also communicated that I was Latin. One day, one of the on-air DJs started calling me “Geena the Latina” and it stuck. I like the name, I think it defines who I am, and I am good with that. I am American first, of Latin descent, and my family is Mexican, but I was raised here in the U.S. We speak both English and Spanish, we grew up eating Mexican food and going to low-rider car shows, and my Spanish could be a lot better, but that’s also a product of us growing up with everything American. We grew up heavily immersed in the Mexican American culture, but also grew up very American. We’re an interesting mix of Latino that I feel represents a lot of people who were raised the same way, here in the U.S. We are proud of our Latin/Mexican roots and heritage, but are also proud to be American. I’m part of a generation that grew up with both cultures that shaped us to become who we are, and I’m proud of that.
What I love about downtown San Diego …
I love that it’s right in the middle of downtown San Diego and Little Italy. It’s a five-minute ride either way. Depending on what I feel like doing, everything is pretty accessible. I also love that I’m so close to North Park, as I frequent that neighborhood almost daily. I love having visitors and them being able to be so close to so much to do! Downtown, the harbor, Little Italy, Barrio Logan—I’m close to everything.
Q: Tell us about your Girls Empowerment Conference.
A: I’d been a keynote speaker at conferences for girls at both Mount Miguel High School and at the University of San Diego. After speaking at both conferences, I thought about combining them in order to maximize resources and to provide a massive conference for teen girls from all over San Diego. I spoke to the organizers of both conferences, and we started our Girls Empowerment Conference in 2017. The girls are provided with food throughout the day, along with empowering activities, speakers, performances, and interactive workshops.
During the smaller breakout sessions with a moderator, girls are able to comfortably talk about the issues affecting their lives, like body image, confidence, or life at home. Empowerment groups from different high schools perform spoken word and put together empowering videos that are played during the day. The girls from these high school empowerment groups are highly involved with everything from the topics of the conference to the themes, speakers, and more. We really try to hear them out and listen to what they say they want and need, as we plan the conference. It’s a fully interactive, immersive day, specifically geared to teen girls from ninth through 12th grades, and the costs of admission and transportation are covered at no cost to the girls.
Q: Why was this conference something you wanted to create?
A: We wanted to provide resources and outlets for teen girls who probably wouldn’t be able to have access to them otherwise. We wanted to uplift girls and give them examples of what they can become if they work hard and stay motivated. We wanted to provide a safe place for them to learn, grow, and have fun, and we ultimately wanted to inspire these girls to be the best that they can be. We wanted to allow them to see examples of others who were in their position once, and to see how far those women have come.
Q: What does the idea of “empowerment” mean to you, personally?
A: Empowerment is a state of being. It’s a state of feeling completely comfortable with who you are and what you believe in; of feeling confident that you can do whatever it is you want to do; of being confident in who you are and what you bring to the table; of knowing that your contribution to this world is important; and it’s a state of knowing that anything is achievable when you put your mind to it and dedicate yourself to making it happen. Empowerment gives you the feeling that nothing is unattainable.
Q: What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
A: Don’t take things personally. So many times, we won’t pursue our goals or dreams because someone told us we couldn’t, or because we got turned down or rejected. I think never taking things personally — whether it be a rejection or something said about us — allows us to not be hindered by things we can’t control. All you can do is be you, be a good person, work hard, and everything will happen as it’s supposed to happen.
Click here to read the full article on the San Diego Tribune.
I’ve always enjoyed working with content creators. At 31, I’ve helped launch creator programs at some of the biggest tech companies, including Instagram and Pinterest.
But it was frustrating to see the pay inequality that content creators constantly faced. So earlier this year, I decided to quit my $150,000-per-year job at TikTok to start a “Glassdoor-like” app called Clara for Creators.
Since launching, it has helped more than 7,000 influencers and content creators share and compare pay rates and review their experiences working with brands.
The pay gap in influencer marketing
Nowadays, there are very few barriers to becoming a content creator. With the popularity of TikTok, for example, you don’t need to invest hundreds or thousands of dollars in equipment; anyone can try to build an audience and monetize their platform with videos they shoot on a smartphone.
As a result, more and more creators have entered the business. The problem? They have little knowledge about how much money they could — or should — be making.
Content creator deals are tricky. How much you’re paid depends on the type of content you’re offering a brand and on what platform — an Instagram post versus a YouTube video, for example. Other factors include the size of your following, engagement metrics and success rates with previous partnerships.
To make matters even more complicated, brands often ask an influencer for their rate instead of offering everyone a base pay with room to negotiate.
Many creators end up selling themselves short, especially women and people of color. I once saw a man get paid 10 times what a woman creator was paid for the same campaign — just because he asked for more. I’ve also seen Latinx creators with triple the following of white creators be paid half as much.
How I started my mission-based business
I knew a major problem that creators faced was that they couldn’t Google how much money they could charge for marketing a product or service on their platform. That lightbulb moment — and how much I cared about the creators I worked with — inspired me to build Clara.
I wanted creators to be able to share reviews of brands they had worked with, along with how much they were paid for different types of content based on their number of followers.
In March 2021, I sent a bunch of cold messages to potential investors on LinkedIn. In July, after weeks of non-stop outreach that turned into more than 10 pitch meetings, I received a small investment from an individual investor. I used that money to contract a team of developers, who I worked alongside to build and test the app.
Clara finally launched for iOS in January this year. Within a month, without spending any money on advertisements, more than 7,000 creators signed up to share their rates on Clara, including top TikTok creators like Devon Rodriguez and Nancy Bullard, who each have 24.4 million and 2.9 million social media followers, respectively.
On January 14, I quit my job at TikTok as a creator program manager to work on Clara full-time. While I am taking a massive pay cut by leaving my 9-to-5, I’m living off money I make as a content creator and my savings.
Right now, I’m focused on raising capital to grow the platform. I’m also spreading the word about equal pay and how important resources like Clara are. l post career advice and other resources on my TikTok account, where I currently have 348,000 followers.
Get paid fairly: Know your rights and do your research
There are many things you can do to work towards greater pay equity for yourself and others in your industry.
When discussing pay with your coworkers, it’s important to know your rights. Some corporations may try to scare you from it by saying that salary talk is against company policy. But under the National Labor Relations Act, many employees have the right to talk about their wages with their coworkers.
I’ve had six full-time jobs, and fear used to keep me from talking about money. But the first time I openly discussed my salary with a colleague, I found out I was being underpaid. I then used that knowledge to look for new roles where I’d be paid more fairly.
These conversations don’t have to be awkward, especially if you’ve established a safe and comfortable relationship. Rather than flat-out asking “How much are you making?,” approach the discussion in a “let’s help each other” way. You might be surprised by the number of people who are willing to talk about it.
Keep in mind that while you have the right to communicate about your wages, your employer may have lawful policies against using their equipment — like work laptops — to have the discussion. Protect yourself by understanding your company’s policy before sending a rallying Slack message.
And always do your research before accepting a contract. Sites like Glassdoor, Levels and Clara offer this data for free.
You can also search sites like TikTok and YouTube to get deep insights about pay. There are many creators who, like me, are open about what they’ve been paid at previous companies — down to stock offerings and sign-on bonuses, and who share information about company cultures overall.
I also created a spreadsheet for people to share their titles and salaries alongside important demographic information I’ve seen left out on other databases, like gender, age and diverse identity fields. So far, it has over 62,000 entries.
“I think what is important to me is never giving up,” the 90-year-old Puerto Rican actress, dancer, singer and activist said in a recent phone interview, “Things do change and times do change, and the people who weren’t listening to me and what I stand for let’s say, 20 years ago, are listening more.”
Moreno’s determination plays a large role in her successful and expansive career. During Hispanic Network Magazine’s 30 years, Moreno has graced our cover more than once. She is a legend, with accolades that include EGOT status, with Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards to her name.
While she is proud of her recognition, she stills sees room for improvement in terms of substantial Latinx representation within the entertainment industry. It is a challenge that has been present throughout her entire career.
“I see strides, and I don’t see enough,” Moreno said. “I think we are definitely underrepresented.”
As a young actress at MGM Studios in the 1950s, she was stuck playing ethnically ambiguous female roles she refers to as “dusky maidens.”
West Side Story in 1961 was a turning point for Moreno, who became the first Latina to win an Academy Award for acting for her role as Anita.
Moreno has been vocal through the years of how badly she wanted the role and the chance to play a Hispanic character with substance. She has also spoken candidly about the little difference the Oscar made in the roles she was offered after the win.
“It’s like, ‘How does it feel to have all those awards that no other Latino has?’” Moreno said, “Well, it feels wonderful, but it doesn’t get me the work. It has never gotten me the work.”
After her Oscar win, Moreno did Broadway and television but didn’t make another motion picture for seven years.
For most of the 1970s, Moreno was a main cast member on the PBS educational children’s program, The Electric Company, and won a Grammy for the show’s children’s album.
She won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play for The Ritz in 1975. Moreno won her first Emmy Award in 1977 for her appearance on The Muppet Show, and received a second Emmy the following year for The Rockford Files.
In her 2021 documentary, Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It, Moreno shares that as a young actress starting out, she looked up to Elizabeth Taylor simply because there were no role models for a young Puerto Rican girl. There was no one on screen who looked like her.
Ironically, Moreno’s time on the stage and screens both big and small, mean many of today’s Latinx stars grew up looking up to her.
In Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It, Eva Longoria reflects on watching Moreno in The Electric Company and recognizing her as someone that looked like her. In Jennifer Lopez’s own documentary, Half-Time, she specifically names Moreno as her inspiration for aspiring to dance, act and sing.
Another Latinx entertainer who grew up watching Moreno is Ariana DeBose.
DeBose took on Moreno’s most famous role in Steven Spielberg’s 2021 adaptation of West Side Story, which Moreno also starred in and served as an executive producer for. In 2022, DeBose received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for playing Anita. She is the first Afro-Latina, the first openly queer actor of color and the first openly queer woman to win the award. It’s a recognition that may not have been possible without Moreno’s own groundbreaking win.
“First of all, I am so happy for her, and I am happy for the Hispanic community,” Moreno said of DeBose, “She is Afro-Latina and that opens another door, which is fantastic. She is obviously very aware of the exclusion that we suffer from.”
Moreno places a lot of hope on the younger generation to lend their voice to changing things for the Latinx community.
“I am very hopeful that she will bring the attention of the younger people whose ear and interest we definitely don’t have,” said Moreno.
Moreno knows how to speak up too.
She has talked openly about her experiences with sexual assault, abortion and suicide and has long been an advocated for women’s rights. Her early social activism began at the March on Washington, where she was present during Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. famous “I Have a Dream” speech and stretches today, when she again recounted her own abortion story in the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. In 2004, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and in 2009, President Barack Obama awarded her the National Medal of Arts.
“It is a question of never, ever giving up on what you have to say that is important to helping our community,” said Moreno.
Speaking up takes courage, but Moreno admits she has never had trouble being loud.
“I am a raucous person, and that is the Latina part of me. I am noisy, I laugh too loud,” Moreno said, “But that is who I am. I love that part of me.”
From 2017 to 2020, Moreno took on the role of Lydia, in One Day at a Time, the sitcom inspired by Norman Lear’s 1975 series of the same name. The reboot focused on Penelope, a newly single Army veteran, and her Cuban-American family. As Lydia, Moreno embraced the best parts of Latin culture, without slipping into stereotypes, and demonstrated what is possible when we are able to lovingly tell our own stories.
“I have a deep love for my people,” Moreno said, “I love who we are, and I love what we represent, because we represent deep values. I love our food; I love our music; I am never unaware of the Latin-ness of all of that.”
There is plenty of new Moreno content coming out later this year too.
This summer she will be filming a Christmas movie for Lifetime in Nashville, and she is also joining Sally Field, Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Tom Brady for football-themed road-trip movie, 80 for Brady.
Moreno also has a role in Vin Diesel’s upcoming Fast and Furious movie, Fast X, as Grandma Toretto, Dom Toretto’s abuela.
“I had an absolutely fabulous time,” Moreno said of the filming, which took place in London. “We were freezing; we’re talking 50 degrees. But I loved it, I had a great time.”
Moreno said she had such a good time she might even make an appearance in the next film.
“I may do one more, so that would be insane,” Moreno said, “I mean, I am 90 years old and look at me!”
Former WNBA player Niesha Butler has opened the first Afro-Latina-owned STEM camp, S.T.E.A.M. Champs, in New York City to reduce accessibility barriers to tech educational resources for Brooklyn youth.
“If a kid could actually say that they can be LeBron James, and roll it off their tongue as easy as that, then they can literally say ‘yeah, I can also put a man on the moon,’ or ‘I can also create the next app,'” Butler told ABC News.
Butler, a New York City native, says “there’s talent in Brooklyn.” She established S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) Champs in the middle of Brooklyn to encourage inner-city youth to channel their ambition into educational opportunities. Butler also hires interns, may of whom have tried coding for the first time with the program, she says.
“People sell basketball dreams every other second in our community. I thought it was really important to, let’s sell these tech dreams,” Butler said.
Prior to opening her doors in Brooklyn, Butler partnered with organizations like Girl Scouts, BronxWorks and a local AAU basketball team to host STEM-focused workshops reaching over 300 New York City students. Monday was the first day of camp in the newly opened facility.
“There’s not a lot of people of color in tech,” Butler said. “These jobs are open for everybody and they’re empty…so obviously we need to do a better job at educating our kids and in recruiting them.”
Other tech education camps and workshops across the nation have worked to close the gap and make tech careers interesting and accessible to students of underserved communities.
Black Girls CODE is one of those resources providing workshops and public speaking opportunities for Black girls. Program alumni Kimora Oliver and Azure Butler say that the program’s first chapter in California’s Bay Area created an environment that allowed local Black female students to envision themselves in the tech industry.
“Unfortunately, STEM is a white and male dominated field,” Oliver told ABC News. “I feel like [Black Girls CODE] is giving a diverse group of Black girls the exposure that they need to decide for themselves whether they want to continue with STEM in the future.”
For almost 40 years, another program called Academically Interest Minds (AIM) at Kettering University has tailored its pre-college curriculum to expose youth of color to STEM coursework and campus life.
“49% of African American students who attend Kettering University now, are AIM graduates,” Ricky D. Brown, the university’s director of multicultural student initiatives and the AIM program, told ABC News.
For many, STEM educational resources introduce an element of choice in considering STEM and exploring pathways of academic interests.
A study released in July by the National Bureau of Economic Research says that early intervention programs like S.T.E.A.M Champs, AIM and Black Girls CODE are effective in helping students achieve academic success in higher education and STEM majors.
“Some of these kids don’t have a computer at home to study,” Butler said. “When I go to some of these centers, they don’t have good Wi-Fi…they have outdated computers.”
According to the study, underrepresentation in STEM is due to a lack of preparation and access to educational resources.
“Given that STEM preparation and college access are shaped prior to college entrance, STEM focused enrichment programs for high school students are promising vehicles to reduce disparities in STEM degree attainment,” the study’s authors wrote.
Click here to read the full article on ABC News Radio.
SIA Scotch Whisky, an award-winning spirits brand founded by first-generation Hispanic entrepreneur Carin Luna-Ostaseski, is bringing back The Entrepreneurial Spirit Fund by SIA Scotch for the second consecutive year. The groundbreaking initiative provides entrepreneurs of color with access to the capital and mentorship that will help them take action, build stronger companies and have a positive impact on their communities.
This year, the grant program will focus on growing businesses specifically within the brand’s own world – the food, beverage, and hospitality sector . This space has been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, and its small business owners continue to face massive barriers, such as adapting to consumers’ ever-evolving preferences and spending behaviors, adjusting to increased at-home demand, and facing supply chain disruptions. As a brand built from the ground up, SIA Scotch Whisky truly understands the importance of supporting these often-overlooked small business owners along their entrepreneurial journeys.
“As an entrepreneur from a historically underrepresented and underserved community, gaining access to funding and mentorship during my startup journey was always an uphill battle,” said founder Luna-Ostaseski. “The food, beverage and hospitality space is very competitive, and I know from firsthand experience how game-changing support can be. SIA Scotch Whisky was born out of my perseverance and passion, and to this day our purpose is to inspire other entrepreneurs of color to achieve the unexpected – just like I did. I am so proud of The Entrepreneurial Spirit Fund and its continued commitment to paying it forward.”
However, success is not easy to come by. Entrepreneurs of color tend to face more obstacles when it comes to raising capital and are far more likely to get shut out of financing completely. Despite approximately 18.7% of all U.S. businesses being minority-owned , representing over 50% of new businesses started and creating 4.7 million new jobs, this group is still largely excluded in funding – receiving only a 2% share of venture capital annually over the last decade .
The Entrepreneurial Spirit Fund by SIA Scotch is inspired by Carin Luna-Ostaseski’s entrepreneurial journey and launches in partnership with Hello Alice, a free online platform that connects its community of nearly one million small business owners with the capital, tools and education they need to grow their businesses.
“Entrepreneurs of color are an economic force in the U.S and recognizing their impact in our communities is of great importance,” said Elizabeth Gore, co-founder and President, Hello Alice. “In our most recent survey, 89% of small business owners claim access to capital is limiting their business growth potential. Along with our partner SIA Scotch Whisky, we are excited to continue this groundbreaking grant program to help support this underserved community and provide the resources, tools and additional exposure that these businesses need to succeed.”
The Entrepreneurial Spirit Fund by SIA Scotch will award $10,000 grants to 11 qualifying entrepreneurs who self-identify as people of color, for a total of $110,000. To apply, visit https://hialice.co/siascotchfund now through Sept. 26, 2022. To be eligible, business owners must be 25 years of age or older (as of November 1, 2022) and a legal U.S. resident. Businesses must be owned 51%+ by person(s) of color, a for-profit business producing less than $5M in annual gross revenue, not be an alcohol beverage wholesale or retail license holder or a business which makes/distributes/imports alcohol, and must operate and/or conduct business in at least one of the following states: CA, CO, CT, FL, GA, IL, MA, MN, NJ, NV, NY, RI and/or TX. For complete eligibility criteria and important restrictions, visit the application site and terms & conditions. The final grant recipients will be announced on Nov. 1, 2022, kicking off National Entrepreneur Month.
The Entrepreneurial Spirit Fund is a continuation of SIA Scotch Whisky’s nearly decade-long commitment to donating a portion of sales to organizations that help support underrepresented entrepreneurs – the dreamers, movers and shakers who are shaping the future. When getting into the entrepreneurial spirit or when sipping on actual spirits, SIA encourages consumers of legal drinking age to drink responsibly.
Click here to read the full article on Yahoo! Finance.