Let’s talk about authentic representation in storytelling. Many TV writer’s rooms don’t always accurately reflect the diverse world that surrounds them. In addition to that, the character profile and storylines on these shows are often inauthentic and don’t accurately represent the culture in which the character is supposed to be a part of.
For this year’s Hispanic Heritage + Latinx Month, we’re proud to speak with a few Hispanic + Latinx writers who are focused on elevating authentic, accurate and intentional representation in Film & TV. These accomplished group of writers and producers have worked on multi-award winning and nominated shows including Snowfall, Private Practice, East Los High, Diary of a Future President and more.
ABOUT THE PANELISTS:
DANNY FERNANDEZ is a writer, actor, producer, and songwriter. He is currently working on season 2 of ICARLY on Paramount Plus with previous writing credits including: DIARY OF A FUTURE PRESIDENT for Disney+, LOVE, VICTOR on Hulu, and Eva Longoria’s GRAND HOTEL on ABC. Danny was selected for the 2020 LATINXT List, a groundbreaking initiative founded by Zoe Saldana, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Robert Rodriguez, recognizing and elevating breakthrough US Latinx creatives.Danny was born in Miami and is a first-generation Cuban-American. A graduate of NYU Tisch School of the Arts, he has been seen as an actor Off-Broadway, and on Nickelodeon’s iCarly, ABC’s Mistresses and Seeking a Friend for the End of the World opposite Steve Carrell. After noticing the lack of authentic Latinx representation on TV and Film, Danny decided to dedicate himself to writing that material himself. He quickly fell in love with writing and telling stories that were true to his experiences as a first-generation Latino-American.For three years, Danny was the sole writer for the annual Imagen Awards, which included reworking the opening of Hamilton to honor Lin-Manuel Miranda and writing for Rita Moreno, Kenny Ortega, among others. Founded by Norman Lear, The Imagen Awards celebrate the positive portrayals of Latinx characters and stories in TV and Film. As a director, Danny produced and directed portions of Todrick Hall’s Visual Album, Straight Outta Oz, which currently has over 7 Million views on YouTube and reached #2 on the iTunes Pop Music Charts.Danny has written extensively for non-profits, creating videos that are viral hits which star Pauley Perrette (NCIS), Verne Troyer, Kat Graham, and Anika Noni Rose. His other projects feature Mariah Carey, The Roots, Dr. Cornell West, and Al Sharpton, surrounding issues regarding Civil Rights and Racial Justice as a public health crisis.
SAL CALLEROS is an LA native who started out as a graffiti artist in high school and college. He graduated from the ABC Writing Fellowship in 2006 but his first true writing job was for the Domestic Violence Clinic in the San Fernando Courthouse. After also working three years as a Family Law paralegal, and a court interpreter -he transitioned into entertainment. He started as a research analyst at FX and then as a Media Planner at a Hispanic marketing agency. Sal also has a beautiful family, that provides entertaining and challenging culture clashes that fuel his creativity!
MARIA ESCOBEDO is a native New Yorker, living in Los Angeles, who writes for both live action and animation. Her writing credits include Grey’s Anatomy, Hulu’s East Los High, plus Madagascar: A Little Wild for Dreamworks, Nickelodeon’s Santiago of the Seas, and Disney’s Elena of Avalor! She’s a 1st generation Latina raised in NYC’s Washington Heights, (yes, she was raised: In The Heights!) and she spent her summers with family in Miami and Puerto Rico. After film school, Maria co-wrote and directed, Rum and Coke, an indie film, and wrote a movie for Disney Channel, Lifetime (co-wrote), and developed a half hour single cam pilot for Nickelodeon. She recently co-wrote and developed an hour-long dramedy pilot for ABC. Maria has also written and sold pilots in the animated kids space, (Disney, Nick, Amazon, Netflix, Universal Kids, Dreamworks, PBS) earning a Humanitas nomination. She has a degree in film from NY’s School of Visual Arts, studied screenwriting at NYU, playwriting at The Puerto Rican Traveling Theater, and earned a TV Writing Fellowship from ABC/Disney. Maria served as Chair of the Latino Writers Committee at the WGAW for 5 years.
ABOUT OUR MODERATOR:
ANGELICA FIGUEROA has more than 17 years of experience as a screenwriter. In 2019, she received an award for best script in Marbella’s Film Festival for the feature film Sofia. She has worked as an educator for more than 10 years and writes for independent projects for television and film. During seven years she worked in public television overseas. In 2020, she earned a master’s degree in Instructional Design and Technology. She is passionate about teaching and making a positive difference in students’ lives.