By Elia Esparza
What a whirlwind Memorial Day L.A. weekend! Friday through Monday, it was non-stop quality entertainment!
Nancy De Los Santos-Reza’s play UAC ETA TBD aka Undocumented Alien Children Estimated Time of Arrival To Be Determined– performed two encore presentations at the prestigious Roy and Edna Disney’s RedCAT. It is astounding how Nancy took a difficult and politically controversial issue and turned it into a musical theatrical production told through the kids point-of-views. Somehow the play does a brilliant job exploring the plight of the thousands of Central American refugee children and teens facing the hardship of fleeing the violence of their homelands to come to the U.S. And, upon arriving here are met with new challenges and threats of deportation. After experiencing this play, no matter what side of the political aisle you are, you will be affected—if not, then you’re just plain heartless. Kudos to the CalArts’ theater students, Nancy and director B.J. Dodge.
My weekend journey takes me to Saturday night’s screening of the indie film After School. This True Form Films story by Yeniffer Behrens-Mendoza, Mauricio Mendoza and DeWayne Cox, is an insightful look into every parent’s nightmare. No matter how much we read about it, see it on TV news stories, until it happens to you, we tend to ignore the fact that child sex abuse and sex slavery is happening right now, here in our own communities. I recommend every parent watch it.
After School is a hellish fictional story that so many of our children are currently living. The young boy in the film lashes out against his abusers and in his desperation finally demands attention because no one in his family or people in positions of authority (teachers, police, etc.) have ever spoken up for him or even had a clue something was terribly wrong. The film’s core message: “Children are suffering unspeakable, traumatizing horrors and they live with those secrets that tear their insides, and they need to address their pain before it destroys them. We hope our movie helps to liberate victims to speak up and get help.” Next stop, San Diego and then Chicago. Stay tuned.
On Monday, I helped out with the Veteranos: A Legacy of Valor production at Plaza De La Raza—it was such a rewarding way to spend my Memorial Day—surrounded by so many of our veterans, young and old who came out in large numbers to watch both shows. Directed by actor/producer/writer Enrique Castillo, this play honors all veterans with the presentation of one act from his award-winning play Veteranos: A Legacy of Valor theatrical musical. I was honored to have met so many of our veterans under one roof. The production was blessed to have secured a sponsor who paid for the veteran patrons who came to the production. The word spread and the veteran turnout was impressive. There was not a dry eye as they watched the production and the eleven talented actors and three musicians all acting out the story to honor the legacy of Latino veterans. Impressive young talent…a couple of them making their theatrical debut. Stay tuned because the full production of Veteranos: A Legacy of Valor will be venturing back in 2016!
Over the weekend, I ran into many friends and colleagues. One conversation I had with Hollywood film and TV historian, Luis Reyes, was about who is to blame for the TV sitcom Cristela not being picked up for a second season. I stated my disappointment that many Latinos did not support the show and were vocal about it—which in my personal opinion burns me up. Have they no idea how hard it is to get a show green lit and actually make it on the air? Have they no idea what it means to the rest of us Latino writers, producers, actors working in the industry to have a Latino Showrunner? I even heard some Latinos say they wanted more of a Blackish or The Cosby’s type of shows. Under my breath I say, ‘those are white shows cast with Black actors.’ But Luis blamed it more on ABC not supporting the show like the supported the other series and the Friday night slot, which is not the best. I guess it is a combination of reasons. No doubt, this is a debate is one I’ll explore later.
Memorial weekend for 2015 was a perfect example of three excellent entertainment presentations of Latino-made properties telling universal themed stories for all audiences. And, best of all, we were introduced to new rising young talent.
So, how was your weekend?
About Elia Esparza
She was editor of Latin Heat magazine for 17 years and editor of Estylo for 2 years. Today, while she continues to contribute content to www.LatinHeat.com and her Latinowood blog, she also launched Always Evolving PR (www.AlwaysEvolvingPR.com), a boutique agency in 2014. As an Entertainment Communications Specialist, Elia incorporates her 20 years experience in the areas of entertainment public relations, marketing, promotions, market research and translations (English/Spanish). She is the former Director of Communications at Charles Drew University of Medicine where she specialized in crisis management (2007-2010). Elia is also a co-founder of LatinHeat Media Institute, a non-profit organization which utilizes multiple platforms and strategic alliances to inform, educate, connect, and empower Latinos in entertainment by providing the resources and tools, as well as insight into relevant issues in the entertainment industry that inform and advance Latinos in media. For more info CLICK HERE