I think it's time that I came clean about something that's been gnawing at me. Something that I haven't revealed to many. Something that I'm not entirely proud to admit. Okay... here it goes. I've never really identified as Latina. Yes, I know that may come as a shock to those that know me, but I haven't always been the 305 tattoo having, Spanglish speaking mamacita that I am today. In fact, growing up Latina in one of America's most predominantly Hispanic cities wasn't always fun for me. Every childhood car ride with a salsa or merengue soundtrack was painful. Every Thanksgiving spent eating rice and beans was hated. And my resentment flowed deep (at the time) for having to visit Cuba as a bratty 16-year-old. Simply put, I didn't WANT to be Latina.
So where did all this disdain come from? Well, as a pop culture obsessed kid, it probably stemmed from the fact that no one on television or in film looked or sounded like me. No one was Cuban. No one was from Miami. I just couldn't relate. Even today, it's hard to find positive representations of Latinas in popular culture. Or accurate portrayals of Miami for that matter. Sofia Vergara is almost a caricature on Modern Family, and the fact that a show like Devious Maids was ever green lit makes my Celia Cruz-loving soul ache. So, after suffering through too many inauthentic portrayals of both Latinas and the Magic City on screen, I decided to do something about it.
It all started when I teamed up with a fellow Latina, pop culture nerd, Miami native and filmmaking badass named Ximena Aliaguilla. After pitching her an idea for a web video focusing on Miami's unique Spanglish vocabulary, we took things a step further and created Miami XL, an eight episode web series about two sassy Latinas living and loving in paradise. Think of it as Girls meets Broad City meets ¿Qué Pasa USA? Featuring an all Miami cast and crew and filmed solely in our fair city, the series provides an authentic glimpse into the millennial Latina psyche. Something that I've never felt television and film have ever gotten right.
Now, after writing, producing and starring in the first three episodes of Miami XL, we're putting the finishing touches on a Kickstarter campaign to aide in funding the remaining five. It's an ambitious project, but one that is truly important. Because I'll be DAMNED if another feisty Cuban girl in the 305 is growing up resenting her heritage, too.