Odilia Rivera Santos
The latest debacle with Work It, a pilot classified as comedy, on ABC in which a Puerto Rican actor asked if he would like to sell pharmaceutical drugs says he'd be a great drug dealer because he's Puerto Rican brings to mind the need for Latino television writers. Everyone in the arts knows the importance of making a maximum amount of money at each gig, considering there may be a long time in between gigs, so I don't want to attack the Puerto Rican actor Amaury Nolasco. He may have to issue some kind of public apology at some point should he desire to work in a Latino production written, directed or funded by an actual Latino. But that's his business.
Recently, a couple of writer friends have spoken about getting gigs writing for television.
It's surprising to see those hardcore-East-Village-dressed-in-black-at-all-times-and-participating -in-a-hundred-poetry-readings-per-year writers admit they are thrilled to be writing for TV. The B job of teaching writing at a university wasn't paying their bills and the occasional artsy writing payday was a challenge to both budget and artistic self-esteem. One writer said his pilot for HBO was actually going to happen. He smiled, feeling embarrassed this is something he had always desired.
For Latinos, it is really imperative we write for television and film, not to mimic the same tired formula of how a Latino life is lived written from an anglo perspective, but to bring to life something close to the reality of our lives. We contain many perspectives; some of us eschew tradition completely, others fall into tradition only to climb back out after finding it to be a form of suffocation and some stride effortlessly into the societal expectations of their particular Latino tribe.
There are just as many funny, talented, brilliant writers and performers from the Hispanic/Latino diaspora as there are from that of the European. Now, it's time to focus on writing for a medium with a healthy paycheck and the kind of exposure that will not cause frostbite.
I urge Latino writers in the blogosphere to consider writing for television for change and for progress as well as for your bank account.