Entertainment

Pixar Hired Cultural Consultants To Help With ‘Coco’ And It Looks Like They Definitely Helped Shape The Movie

Several years ago, Disney sparked a bit of controversy when they attempted to trademark “Dia de los Muertos.” Although they weren’t trying to trademark the holiday itself – the filing was for the title and related merchandise for an animated film – the move was seen as an attempt to cash in on a holiday that is sacred to many. After a backlash from the Latino community, Disney/Pixar withdrew its trademark attempt and eventually hired one of its vocal critics, cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz, as a consultant.

“My first reaction was ‘Wow. Is this for real? Should I do this? It’s pretty risky. Are they going to ask me to just rubber stamp stuff, or are they going to listen to what I have to say, cuz, you know, I have strong opinions,'” says Alcaraz. “My second reaction was, ‘PIXAR WANTS TO TALK TO ME.’ A combination of joy and terror.”

CREDIT: Pixar

Fast forward to today, and Disney/Pixar is just a little over a month away from the release of “Coco,” a Dia de los Muertos-themed film that appears to honor and respect the holiday as it is celebrated in Mexico.

After viewing the first 30 minutes, it’s clear Disney/Pixar worked hard to create a film that authentically captures the feel of Dia de los Muertos.

Co-director Lee Unkrich hopes the film resonates with those who celebrate Dia de los Muertos.

“We hope that our audience in those communities feel like we got it right,” he says. “That we spent the time to get the details right. That we dove deep and really did our best to come to understand the traditions and the intricacies of the holiday, and communicate it in a way that spoke to those communities but was also accessible to everyone in the world.”

CREDIT: Pixar

As important as telling a story that resonates with both Latino and non-Latino audiences is to co-director Adrian Molina, he also understands the importance of representation for Latinos.

“One really beautiful thing about this film, in particular, is to be able to feature a Mexican family, to be able to feature Mexican protagonists,” he says. “I think there’s something really beautiful and necessary about being able to see yourself up on screen – see yourself as the hero. For a Mexican-American or Mexican family to be able to go together and have that experience, I think that would be a unique thing that they could share in watching this film.”

Marcela Davison Aviles (President and CEO of the Mexican Heritage Corporation in San Jose, Calif.), playwright Octavio Solis and political cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz were brought on by Pixar as cultural advisors for “Coco.”

When asked how big of a role Pixar’s cultural advisors had in shaping the film, director Lee Unkrich revealed Pixar did something they’ve “never done on any other film” by inviting the team of cultural advisors as well as other figures in the Latino community from across the country to every one of their screenings.

CREDIT: Pixar

Alcaraz says each advisor brought something different to the table: “We each gave individual notes, we each have different strengths, so it was good to feel like between all three of us, the team members had it all covered. Marcela is a musical expert and writes extensive notes like a lawyer (because she is a Harvard trained lawyer) and makes me feel like I am a lazy slob. Octavio is a playwright and performer, and is really good on the theatrical aspects of the production. Me, I’m the cynical angry cholo whose strength is sometimes looking at things literally and catching what most people might miss. What a motley dream team!”

Unkrich, who co-directed “Finding Nemo,” “Monsters, Inc.” and “Toy Story 2,” says the cultural advisers were an integral part of the filmmaking process.

“Some of them were very wary about what we were doing and not sure about what our intentions were and how seriously we were taking it, but I think we put them at ease pretty quickly,” he says. “But [we] also made them feel comfortable giving us, sometimes, big notes. We made some big changes in the story based on the input that we got from the advisers.”

Alcaraz says they wanted to film to feel authentic but not didactic.

“I looked for elements of the film and story that could be misconstrued as stereotypical or racist. I looked to include more Mexican elements in the film when possible, like additional Spanish in the dialogue, and made suggestions on specific words. I listened for pronunciations of Spanish words to make sure they didn’t sound off. I think we struck a good balance on giving comments that helped the cultural authenticity of the story without bogging it down as if it were some kind of Dia de los Muertos documentary.”

CREDIT: Pixar

Alcaraz believes that Pixar’s hard work on the film will lead “Coco” to resonate far beyond the Mexican/Mexican community in the U.S. and Mexico.

“This movie will resonate with family, and will also send out good family vibes to everyone out there, Mexican/Latino or not. This is a time that we need to show how beautiful and rich other cultures can be, and how The Other is not scary, but just a person who happens to not be you. Like one of the Pixar fans out there in Twitterlandia said, ‘While some build walls, Pixar builds bridges.’ Also, the beauty of Mexico comes across clearly here, and also a note to the viewers and to future studios where I will be pitching movie ideas: Brown people sure do look really nice animated.”

We Saw A Preview Of Pixar’s ‘Coco’ And Here’s All The Cool Stuff To Look For When You Watch It

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Queer People Are Shouting Their Gratitude For Naya Rivera’s Trailblazing Character Santana Lopez

Entertainment

Queer People Are Shouting Their Gratitude For Naya Rivera’s Trailblazing Character Santana Lopez

Vittorio Zunino Celotto / Getty Images

There are few queer characters the people can point to in the past as being someone that changed their lives. Santana Lopez, Naya Rivera’s character on “Glee,” is one of them. Even if you’ve never watched “Glee,” Rivera’s character touched you because of how that representation is so important and empowering.

Naya Rivera’s place in LGBTQ+ media representation will be her long-lasting legacy.

Rivera brought us Santana Lopez, a queer Latina navigating the world of high school in a small town. For many, this kind of representation was so rare and often poorly done that Rivera’s command of the role was impactful. You didn’t have to be an avid viewer of the show to understand and appreciate the magnitude of Santana Lopez.

Rivera brought our experience directly to the mainstream and forced our own classmates to think about the way they saw queer people.

Rivera’s ability to capture the awkwardness and terror of being a closeted queer student in high school still resonates. It is a piece of nostalgia that is so deeply ingrained in queer people that it’s hard not to be emotional about Rivera’s sudden and tragic death.

Who can forget the moment Santana used “Landslide” to tell Brittany that she loved her.

The emotion of a love that is not easy to confess and live authentically is real. Ask any queer person you know about coming to terms with her sexuality in high school and you will hear about the fear and excitement. You will hear about the strategic allyships that epitomize the constant battle between being open and staying safe.

Rivera was more than an actress, she was an ally and advocate during her time on “Glee.”

Season 2, when Rivera’s feelings for Brittany (played by Heather Morris) grew, aired from 2010 to 2011. It was a time when marriage equality was not nationwide. Some states still barred same-sex couples from adopting children. Yet, queer high school and college students had a chance to see their experience mirrored because of Rivera’s insistence.

Rivera’s death is a major loss for the queer community that got our strength and courage from her.

Knowing that all of the “Glee” fans were rooting for and falling in love with Santana Lopez gave us a chance to breathe and feel accepted. Adding her Latina heritage was so important. Queer people of color, who have faced increased scrutiny from their own families, had someone representing them completely and sincerely.

Demi Lovato paid tribute by remembering the time she played Santana Lopez’s girlfriend.

The queer Latina love was not lost on fellow queer Latinos. Lovato herself was not out about her sexuality at the time and she admits in her post that Rivera inspired her. Rivera’s efforts to give the character an accurate and respectful storyline will forever be praised and admired as a fully realized manifestation of our experience.

Thank you for being someone we didn’t know we needed, Naya.

Our hearts are broken and our eyes are wet. We send love and hope to your loved ones. Rest in power, mija. We love you and will never forget what you did for our community.

READ: Naya Rivera’s Body Found In Lake Piru After Going Missing During Outing With Son

Naya Rivera’s Body Found In Lake Piru After Going Missing During Outing With Son

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Naya Rivera’s Body Found In Lake Piru After Going Missing During Outing With Son

Gregg Deguire / Getty Images

Update: Naya Rivera’s body has been found in Lake Piru after she went missing last week. Rivera’s disappearance has sent shockwaves of grief throughout the entertainment community as days passed and authorities combed the lake.

The Ventura County Sheriff’s Department confirmed that Naya Rivera’s body has been pulled from Lake Piru.

Naya Rivera was last seen July 8 when she rented a boat for an outing with her young son. Later that day, men on another boat found the rented boat with her son asleep by himself on the boat. The search for Rivera was frantic as family, friends, and fans publicly grieved the sudden disappearance.

Last week, the sheriff’s department told the public that it was unlikely Rivera’s body would resurface because of debris.

At a press conference, Ventura County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Kevin Donoghue said that the debris of trees and plants under the water could cause the body to be entangled under the surface. Coupled with the poor visibility underwater, Office Sgt. Donoghue was not optimistic about the department’s chances of finding the body.

“We’re putting our best foot forward to try and locate her. We’re using all the assets that are available to us. We’re using technology like sonar,” he said at the press conference. “We have experts who have dove this lake who know it inside and out, where debris pockets might be, we’re relying on their expertise to help us in that endeavor. We’re going to do everything we can to find her.”

Original: “Glee” star Naya Rivera is presumed dead after going missing in southern California. The actress was on a boat in Lake Piru with her 4-year-old son when she went missing July 8 in Ventura County.

Authorities are searching for Naya Rivera after going missing.

Naya Rivera is presumed dead after her young son was found alone in a boat in Lake Piru. The lake is in Los Padres National Forest in Ventura County. Rivera’s son was found asleep on the boat three hours after Rivera rented the boat for the mother-son outing. According to officials, the son said that he and Rivera went for a swim and that she didn’t get back on the boat. CNN reports that the child was wearing a life vest while an adult life vest was found on the boat.

The search was paused overnight between Wednesday and Thursday and resumed as a recovery mission.

Fans do not think that Ventura County Sheriff’s are doing enough in the search for the actress. Emotions are high as fans share their grief and shock at Rivera’s sudden disappearance. According to Deputy Chris Dyer, the water where the boat was found is about 40 feet deep and that wind is a big factor in that part of the lake.

Authorities have classified the search as a recovery in a signal that they believe Rivera to be dead.

A recovery mission means that authorities are looking to recover a body from the lake. The news has devastated Rivera’s friends and family who want her brought home safe. Her son is reportedly doing well and is with relatives as authorities search for his mother in the lake.

Celebrities are sending messages hoping for Rivera to be alive.

Rivera wrote a memoir titled “Sorry, Not Sorry,” which gives an intimate look into her life during and after “Glee.” The actress was open and honest in her memoir bringing up some of the darkest and toughest times she endured and how it shaped her in the years that followed.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Rivera’s loved ones.

This story is developing. mitú will report updates as they become available.

READ: Naya Rivera’s Memoir Talks About Abortion And Anorexia