Entertainment

Julissa Calderon And Annie Gonzalez On How ‘Gentefied’ Is Offering Empowerment And Representation In This New TV Era

Netflix’s show “Gentefied” is finally out and we all get to see the love story written to the Los Angeles neighborhood of Boyle Heights. The show is complete with discussions of the complexities of gentrification, bilingual jokes, and a cast that is the embodiment of #RepresentationMatters. 

The show centers around the Morales family’s taco shop made up of patriarch “Pop” (played by Joaquín Cosío) and his grandchildren Erik (played by JJ Soria), Ana (played by Karrie Martin) and Chris (played by Carlos Santos). It is set in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Boyle Heights, an area with a population makeup of 94 percent Latinos, a median age under 25, and where the average income is under $34,000, according to a Los Angeles Times profile.

In “Gentefied,” the Morales family is trying to save their weathering taco shop Mama Fina’s Tacos from being eaten up by the interests of corporate real estate developers and Westside yuppies. In order to keep Pop from closing the doors, Erik, Ana, and Chris try their hand at making fusion tacos or encouraging the children of patrons to read more books in exchange for free tacos. 

Ana’s strong activist girlfriend Yessika (played by Julissa Calderon), and Erik’s baby mama and first love professor and podcast host Lidia (played by Annie Gonzalez) make up the rest of the circle.

Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

The type of support Lidia gives to Erik is a kind of #BrownLove we are all here for. We are also excited to see queer Afro-Latinas represented in a show about the importance of embracing everyone’s Latinidad.

Calderon and Gonzalez are just as impassioned off-screen as their characters are on-screen when it comes to issues affecting Latinos.

Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

“Gentefied” encourages its viewers to love who you want, no matter what las chismosas de la vecindad say.

Mitú recently chatted with Calderon and Gonzalez at the Netflix Los Angeles office to talk more about how gentrification has affected them personally and what messages do they want to extend to audiences members as characters Yessika and Lidia. 

“I think that’s what this show is doing, it’s just creating space for a group of people who never felt seen or heard, and we are so honored and humbled to be part of a project like this,” Gonzalez said about what Gentefied means to her.  

The show’s characters portray the push and pull that gentrification can cause.

Oftentimes it is at the expense of minorities who are already struggling to pay rental prices. We have seen this happen in communities across the nation with Boyle Heights currently in that fight.

“Gentrification, it affects the minorities. Even though you look at statistics, and we are the majority as far as population is concerned (we make up a large population), we’re still the minority when it comes to politics, and anybody else that has the say on how things are ran. 

I’m born and raised in East LA, so I’ve seen first hand how gentrification has affected the people in my community, my family members,” Gonzalez said.

The writers of “Gentefied” are able to have such a high level of authenticity because its cast and crew have lived these changes themselves.  

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Just a lil primo love. ????

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Gonzalez said her own grandmother had to move east to Ontario, Calif., to find affordable housing. Calderon said the Carol City area of greater Miami she knew growing up has completely transformed with different developments, pushing out flea market shop owners and going as far as to re-brand itself as Miami Gardens (now home to the Hard Rock Stadium.) 

“And yes, this story is in East LA, but this is resonating with so many different neighborhoods all around the country,” Calderon added. 

Calderon then shared a story of her grandmother’s Washington Heights neighborhood in New York which is now crawling with hipsters, a change she was taken a bit aback by.

“Before, no one would even walk in those neighborhoods, so it’s definitely interesting to see the turn of events, and unfortunately it’s affecting people of color—always,” Calderon stated. 

Although these gentrification changes are affecting people of color disproportionately, the show portrays a sense of hope and proactiveness by its characters to not only save the cultural roots of their neighborhood but to also help open the minds of the older generation who are grappling with their sense of a changing world. 

Calderon’s Yessika character proudly displays her Afro-Latinidad and lesbian love affair to the world while fighting back.

Yessika shows #BlackGirlMagic is sparkling in the streets of Boyle Heights. 

“I think my character has two messages—one is that she is a Black girl who speaks Spanish and she is proud of it. She owns the skin she’s in. She owns this curly ‘fro that she has. She knows where she comes from,” Calderon exclaimed. She continued, “my character is just not a sell-out. She stands for what she believes in and she doesn’t care if she’s going against everyone else. She’s aware of what’s at stake and she’s aware of what’s important, and she’s for the people.”

Calderon has embraced her full Afro-Latindad through Yessika and is ready to see the impact that representation will have for the next generation. 

“I just want these little girls in these neighborhoods to be like, ‘OMG! That’s me!’ I can see that, because I don’t recall seeing that as a child on TV. The novelas we used to see, everybody was very white-washed, blue eyes, blonde hair—that was the go-to market. We’re changing that sh*t.”

Gonzalez wants her character to convey a clear message of empowerment while attaining your wildest dreams. 

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Spread the chisme…we’re coming.

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Lidia proves you can do it all (and do it in your style of hoop earrings and turban headband!) 

“Lidia, she’s strong, confident, educated, born and raised in the ‘hood, [who] doesn’t need to code-switch to convey her intelligence. She’s empowering the Latinidad to get an education, but not to abandon their roots, thinking that her community is worth pouring into,” Gonzalez had to say about her character.  

Gonzalez added the show’s characters can resonate with audiences because each person knows someone like these characters. She said the example of the love story between Erik and Lidia, in which they each allowed each other to be equally sensitive and powerful, allowed her to find healing within herself.

“I found so much healing through Erik and Lidia’s story via my parent’s severed relationship. I felt I was able to make the ending they weren’t able to have,” Gonzalez shared in the interview. 

The show’s creators, Linda Yvette Chavez and Marvin Lemus knew that these types of stories would resonate because it’s their stories.

It’s a side of America that is finally being shown but was always there. 

The cast and storylines of “Gentefied” prove that the Greater Los Angeles area (and all neighborhoods in general) need to learn that pockets of working-class neighborhoods ARE worth pouring into and exploring—because the small businesses, the parks, the art, the people—they all have value. Having a supermercado instead of a Whole Foods grocery store does not make the history or culture of a city any less important.

READ: Netflix Finally Released The ‘Gentefied’ Trailer And The Show Looks Like An Instant Hit

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Gabriel Fernandez’s Mother, Pearl Fernandez, Is Trying to Have Her Murder Conviction Thrown Out

Things That Matter

Gabriel Fernandez’s Mother, Pearl Fernandez, Is Trying to Have Her Murder Conviction Thrown Out

Photos: State of California, Gabriel’s Justice/Facebook

Gabriel Fernandez’s mother, Pearl Fernandez, is trying to have her murder conviction thrown out. The 37-year-old woman has been in jail since 2018 for the murder and torture of her eight-year old son.

Pearl Fernandez is petitioning the court for resentencing, hoping to have her first-degree murder and/or second-degree murder charges thrown out.

Fernandez is hoping to have her sentence vacated based off of new changes to the California state penal code. “I think that she feels that somehow maybe, you know, the special circumstance will be dismissed or maybe she’ll have a chance that the D.A. will agree with the petition,” Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Hatami said to CBSLA.

In June 2018, a judge sentenced Pearl Fernandez to life without parole. The judge charged Pearl Fernandez with the 2013 torture and killing of her eight-year-old son, Gabriel Fernandez.

On May 22, 2013, Gabriel Fernandez died after suffering a fatal beating from his mother. Pearl Fernandez was allegedly angry that he didn’t clean up his toys.

The details of Pearl and her boyfriend’s lengthy torture campaign against Gabriel Fernandez are both gruesome and numerous. Over the course of his eight-month stay with Isauro Aguirre, the couple broke his bones, burned him with cigarettes, pepper-sprayed him, and forced him to eat his own vomit as well as animal feces. And that is just a short-list of what they did.

The case came to national attention after the release of the 2020 Netflix documentary, “The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez“. The documentary shone a spotlight on the insidious nature of child abuse. It also highlighted the systematic failures of the social services system that fails to protect children.

Elected officials have expressed their disgust at Pearl Fernandez for trying to escape justice by taking advantage of updated laws.

“The policies and directives from my office and these new laws created by the Legislature are emboldening murderers of children to apply to be re-sentenced,” said Deputy DA Hatami to City News Service. “This is completely unfair to the surviving families and their loved ones.”

He continued: “Families now have to relive all the horror that was perpetrated upon a small and helpless child. Based upon all the evidence presented at the grand jury, which was made public, and the jury trial, Pearl Fernandez was a major participant in the torture and murder of little Gabriel.”

It seems obvious by the fact that Pearl Fernandez is trying to get out of jail after torturing her son to death, that she isn’t remorseful about her actions.

Any other mother who killed her son would probably want to spend the rest of her life in jail instead of trying to find a way to get out of it.

If you believe someone you know is experiencing–or committing–child abuse, there are resources to help. Call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child or 1-800-422-4453, or go to www.childhelp.org. Staying vigilant could help save a child like Gabriel Fernandez.

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Regé-Jean Page Is Leaving ‘Bridgerton’ and We’re Devastated

Entertainment

Regé-Jean Page Is Leaving ‘Bridgerton’ and We’re Devastated

Courtesy Netflix

There is some very bad news for “Bridgerton” fans. On Friday, Netflix announced that Regé-Jean Page is not returning for the second season of the smash-hit Shondaland series. Regé-Jean Page played the dashing Duke Simon Basset in the first season.

Netflix told the world that Regé-Jean Page would not be returning to “Bridgerton” via a statement written in the voice of Lady Whistledown.

“While all eyes turn to Lord Anthony Bridgerton’s quest to find a Viscountess, we bid adieu to Regé-Jean Page, who so triumphantly played the Duke of Hastings. We’ll miss Simon’s presence onscreen, but he will always be a part of the Bridgerton family,” Lady Whistledown wrote.

They also added: “Daphne will remain a devoted wife and sister, helping her brother navigate the upcoming social season and what it has to offer – more intrigue and romance than my readers may be able to bear.”

Apparently, it was Regé-Jean Page’s decision not to return to the multicultural costume drama.

Although the role of duke Simon Basset shot Page to stardom, he feels that it’s now time for him to move onto bigger and better things. In an interview with Variety, Page said that Bridgerton producers always told him that his role would be a “one-season arc” with a “beginning, middle, end”.

“[I thought] ‘That’s interesting,’ because then it felt like a limited series,” said Page. “I get to come in, I get to contribute my bit and then the Bridgerton family rolls on.”

According to Bridgerton producers, the next season will largely revolve around Anthony Bridgerton (played by Jonathan Bailey) as he tries to nab the love of his life.

Unfortunately, that storyline doesn’t seem quite as appealing to Bridgerton fans who loved to stare at Regé-Jean Page’s face for hours on end.

“Well, not sure what the point of watching this now,” said one disgruntled Twitter user. “We all know that Simon was the reason why most of us were watching this :/”

Fans of the book series, however, were much quicker to jump to Regé-Jean Page’s defense.

“Guys, each season is about one brother/sister, first season was about Daphne, second season will be about Anthony!” wrote another fan. “Simon won’t be the main character as he was. Accept Anthony and Kate [the new love interest]”. They added later: “The name [of the show] is ‘Bridgerton’ not Duke of Hastings.”

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