Before I became a feature film and TV writer, and before I was even a studio and network executive in Hollywood, I had one dream. One dream since I was a kid, and that was to teach.
Throughout my professional career in entertainment, I’ve had many opportunities to do just that, here and abroad. But this past year, it became more of a calling when I decided to teach in the MFA program in Film TV and Theatre at Cal State LA for one specific reason – to try and increase the number of Latinos working in Hollywood.
I've been fortunate to have a career as a Latina writer/producer for many years, telling stories I cared about that brought to life characters we don’t often see represented on the screen. I am extremely grateful for that opportunity. But Latinos in Hollywood continue to be a dismal minority – in a city where we represent the majority. And I am determined to change that.
At Cal State LA, the student population is over 50% Latino and over 60% first generation. So I was convinced that this school is where I could make the greatest impact, not only with Latino students, but also with an incredibly diverse student body from around the world.
What I did not anticipate was the enormous impact that my students would have on me. And how teaching would become so much more than my initial goal.
Since last year’s presidential election, many teachers across the country, including me, have witnessed first hand the unnecessary confusion, fear, and panic that Trump and his administration have caused, not only to hundreds of thousands of undocumented students and working professionals known as DREAMERS, but to their parents, their extended families, and in their communities. This week, with Trump’s decision to end DACA, that confusion, fear and panic reached new heights.
As President Obama stated yesterday, it was unnecessary, and it was cruel.
But throughout my life, I have also witnessed first hand the impact that a story in a film or on a TV show can have on a country’s conscience. Stories can change hearts and minds, they can help change policy, and they can change a narrative.
With that in mind, I want to make a personal plea to the Hollywood community, and more specifically to TV writers, and ask that you consider creating a storyline on your show(s) in the next six months involving a DREAMER. The story can be large or small. I only ask that it reflect ALL that a DREAMER is, because each one of them is so much more than just undocumented.
I remember a few years back when I had the opportunity to hear Michelle Obama speak to 500 members of the Writers Guild of America, encouraging us to tell stories about military families. I was able to heed the call with one of the shows I was supervising at the time. And doing so filled my soul.
I know I may not have the same impact on you as Michelle Obama, but I hope that in sharing my story, you will be inspired to share theirs. I promise that if you do, your soul will be filled too. And DREAMERS across the country will know that they are not alone, and have the courage to keep fighting for their dignity – fearless, and with pride.