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STORYTELLING HACK: Add Truth and Stir

Meet your audience at an emotional level

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Marquesina Sessions: HBO Latino celebration of LatinX Entertainment

When your personal mission statement is “to apply my creative marketing skills and work with an organization that celebrates diversity and values by supporting the free flow of ideas in the creation of content that improves family and community experiences, using culture and arts, as the channel”, and you receive an invitation from Remezcla, to attend “an HBO Latino celebration of LatinX Entertainment”, happening right here in your own backyard, you have to be there… and I’m glad I did.

Finding voices that unite us in a city where Spanish is a must, might seem like an easy thing to do.  Finding voices that encourage us to tell our stories without stereotypes might seem like the logical thing to do in the times we are living.  Reality is that we Latinos or Hispanics, as a community, have a long road ahead of us. Those voices of encouragement and ideas are everywhere, it’s true, but sometimes you get the feeling that our society pushes us to celebrate individual successes and not come together to express ourselves as a community.  

Checking that box that says Hispanic or Latino feels like making a wide statement, because we know there are several nuances among our cultures.  We are not just a continent or a skin color, we are several countries, with its own regions, some with our own accents, different dialects, different rhythms, spices, and our own shades… and those are not going to disappear when you check that box while applying for a job or filling a census questionnaire.  

Besides these differences, our stories are universal, and we should not be afraid to develop content where our celebrations and struggles take the center stage.  We need to come together as a community, develop brands, identify and support responsible organizations that value our differences, and help us tell stories that connect with the rest of the world at an emotional level.  If we connect with our audience there, the rest will come, but we need to start telling our stories somewhere, and technology has a vast menu of channels to help us in this process.  

That’s where this HBO Latino celebration of LatinX Entertainment comes in, and yes, you should know by now that it hit the right spot within me.  Giving a platform to expose the perspective of leaders from different backgrounds, putting together such a wonderful panel to explore the road ahead is the right step forward for an organization.  So as I was listening to moderator, Rene Rodriguez from the The Miami Herald, conversing with Carmen Pelaez, Director and Playwright, Diana Cadavid, Associate Director, Program & Industry at Miami Film Festival, and Marcella Ochoa, Director of “My Name is Maria de Jesus”, I was grateful to HBO Latino, because there was a marketer in the room where this happened. Thanks Jessica Vargas, Director, Multicultural Marketing at HBO for bringing us together as a community.      

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BONUS TRACK

Carmen Pelaez on storytelling – The more detail you share, the more universal the world is… When you hold on to the truth of the situation, of the experience, and use that as your starting point you become very relatable, very universal, and even if they [the audience] don’t recognize these characters from their environment, they recognize the truth. 

Diana Cadavid on financing Latino film projects – Latin America has struggled forever to make films, but Latin American artists and filmmakers have found ways to continue to grow.  The Miami Film Festival makes connections that allow filmmakers in the US to understand ways to fund their films that is not the typical way a US Latino filmmaker will do it.  This comes with the support of Latin America producers who have found other ways to produce films, either with funds that come from their own countries, funds that come from Europe, or coproductions among different Latin American countries.  US Latino filmmakers can benefit, and vice versa, from the experience of Latino filmmakers producing outside of the US, with models of production that have proved to be successful.

Final round, Words of Advice  

“Work fearlessly and unapologetically.  Help each other, and raise your own standard.  Do not sell yourself for the price they want to give you, sell yourself for what you are worth.  Make the work. Be undeniable.” – Carmen Pelaez

“Let’s do work, let’s talk, and make things happen” – Diana Cadavid

“Let’s help each other, once you get to that position of power, where you can hire writers and hire actors, help each other, because I got to the point where I’m the only Latina on set, and I’m going to help others coming up, others will be, no, there’s only room for one Latina, and that’s not going to be me.  We are not going to grow like that. We all need to help each other. Network, and reach out to people.” 

Note: Takeaways edited for clarity

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On stage: Jessica Vargas, Director, Multicultural Marketing at HBO, introducing the session 

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