After the success of the soft launch of The Latinx House in October, the doors are open. Founders Mónica Ramírez, Olga Segura and Alex Martinez Kondracke –the inspirational figures behind the Querida Familia letter with America Ferrera, Eva Longoria and Diane Guerrero–are launching the initiative at the Sundance Film Festival where it’s the first time a Latinx organization is an official partner. During the weekend of January 24-26, the space in downtown Park City will serve as a gathering place for Latinx filmmakers, storytellers and their allies. “We're having an event with Netflix. We're having a panel that's going to feature America Ferrera,” Alex, who is no stranger to the festival as a filmmaker, tells HOLA! USA. “We're going to have some amazing parties and some amazing other panels.”
Some of the other events include an afterparty for Siempre, Luis, a documentary about Lin-Manuel Miranda’s father, who was a former head of New York Mayor’s Office for Hispanic Affairs, and a conversation with Time’s Up that will be led by Eva Longoria. “It's important that people understand that we're not just organizing an event,” Mónica, who has been at the forefront of activism with her nonprofit Justice for Migrant Women, shares. “[We have] a much broader mission and vision that is really focused on centering and uplifting the power and the positive contributions of the Latinx community. If the Latinx and entertainment communities start modeling this behavior of helping each other out, there's this ripple effect. That's, I think, one of the best outcomes that could come of this.”
Mexican-born Olga would have loved a forum like The Latinx House when her film Emanuel and the Truth about Fishes was featured in 2013. “It’s having that connection where it's not just people from the entertainment industry but actually the unification of advocates, activists and art and music,” she adds. “There are movies from Argentina, Chile, Mexico,” with Alex chiming in: “There's a huge Latinx presence at Sundance this year among the films that have been accepted. We're super excited about that, and we feel like it's serendipitous.”
The Latinx House will then have prominent posts at South by Southwest and the Democratic and Republican National Conventions. Keep reading to learn how these women along with the support of many more including one surprising non Latina ally are going to change the narrative for the Latinx community.
HOLA! USA: You ladies are kicking off The Latinx House at Sundance.
Olga Segura: We've been going to Sundance for a long time. I had a movie in competition in 2013 and for me, just to go back and actually give a space where other young [Latinx] filmmakers, producers, actors actually have a space…”
Alex Martinez Kandracke: “I've been going forever, and I've always looked at all these other organizations and wanted that sense of community. We decided, especially this year when there are so many Latinx filmmakers; it's going to be great. We're all going to share our stories and hopefully work together in the future and learn about each other. And the greatest thing is that Mónica has brought in this activism element so we're also learning about the important issues, interacting with activists who could then educate us about the messages that we need to take forward in the world.”
Mónica Ramírez: “I think that this house and the 200 people who could be in the house at any given time over the course of the weekend... The coming together of all these people who are like minded, that's the accelerant for change. And I think that's why it's important for us also to make sure that what we're doing is outward facing because we're not about just being in a room for three days talking about things. We're about changing things. We're going to be in this space together learning, sharing and building. One of the things that we're doing over the course of the weekend is a unity breakfast that we're co-hosting with some of the other Latinx organizations in entertainment. We have to be able to figure out how to build together with these organizations as well.”
After Sundance, what’s next?
Mónica: “Our work is ongoing. We're continuing to organize with other Latinx organizations to address some of the pressing issues that impact our community, like we did when we organized the Querida Familia letter. I spend the majority of my time on the ground, in communities where people feel completely at a loss. High school kids who are being told to go back to where they came from, and they're born right here. Everyday people who just don't even know how to confront some of the racism and other things that they're experiencing. I think that the power of what we're doing isn't just the place-based organizing and having conversations that are really important to our community. It’s that during these really dark times, we're giving a light. And it's a light that's going to shine on all those people who are going to be in our house, and it's a light that's going to shine brightly on our entire community.”
The new year and decade is upon us, what are your hopes for The Latinx House?
Olga: “I feel like it's always been building the bridge between immigrants and Latinx born and raised here then identifying how we are actually going to feel stronger and better. For me, because I'm an immigrant that was my struggle. If we can have that space for other people that are coming to this country and be lifted up by born and raised Latinx. Oh my god, that'll be a dream for me.”
Alex: “Our community is really disparate. There are Nuyoricans; there are Cubans; there are Mexican-Americans. The more we can unify, the more power we'll have.”
Mónica: “It’s the recognition that we as a community are powerful. We're just now creating a vehicle by which to exercise our power for the betterment of our entire community and our entire country. I think that at the end of 2020 when we look back on what we've accomplished, we're going to say that we were able to create a unique space where people could more readily understand who we are as a whole, and what the 60 million Latinx community members in this country bring to this country and why the contributions matter.”
Are your brains always spinning as to what else you can do and how big you can go?
Alex: “This one [Mónica] doesn't stop. It's always spinning and the rest of us are trying to catch up with her. The response has been unbelievably positive. And we're super excited about all of the partnerships that have been created. There's been an outpouring of love from our allies, an outpouring of love from different organizations that want to help us, that want to be involved...”
Olga: “…Especially because when we started I was like okay, ‘Who's going to be part of The Latinx House? Who's going to support us?’ And I'm sure that a lot of people would have been like, well, Latinx. To our surprise, it's not been only Latinx that want this to succeed.”
Who has been the most surprising in regard to involvement and support?
Olga: “There’s a name that we cannot… When a white female comes and tells you, ‘I want you to succeed. We want you to succeed.’ We're like, great. We will never be able to say her name, but we don’t care because just the fact that an ally and someone that is not from our community actually wants us to grow –that’s pretty powerful. It really meant the world because that's when we were struggling raising funds.”
Alex: “And it's really heartening to know that there are all these people out there who really have our back and there are all these people, powerful or not, in this country who see our struggle, who want to help us succeed. And that's amazing.”
How can someone not in Hollywood be involved?
Mónica: “Our backgrounds as co-founders are Olga and Alex as filmmakers. And then my role as a grassroots organizer. We really are an embodiment of what we're trying to build for the community so that everyone can find a space in this place that we're building. As a part of Sundance we'll have an online presence for people to be able to engage digitally in the conversations that we're having. We don't want what's happening at Sundance to just stay at Sundance. Then similarly, going forward, we want to make sure that everyday community members can join the conversation that we're having. As we're talking about tough issues and topics, we want to make sure that people can engage by showing up at an activation like South by Southwest or at the political conventions. We anticipate going forward that we're going to be activating in other places or hopefully we'll be able to engage more community members.”
For more information on The Latinx House visit their website.