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.  

View this post on Instagram

Just a lil primo love. ????

A post shared by Gentefied (@gentefied) on

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. 

View this post on Instagram

Spread the chisme…we’re coming.

A post shared by Gentefied (@gentefied) on

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

Mayor Eric Garcetti Announces Budget Cut To LAPD But Critics Say It Isn’t Near Enough

Things That Matter

Mayor Eric Garcetti Announces Budget Cut To LAPD But Critics Say It Isn’t Near Enough

Mayor Eric Garcetti / Facebook

Days of protests and civil unrest have rocked Los Angeles and other major American cities. People are angry that police have continued to kill unarmed Black people with little impunity. George Floyd’s death reignited that anger and that hurt that has been bubbling for years. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced a $150 million budget cut from LAPD but the numbers suggest the gesture is far from enough.

People across the country are protesting against the police brutality that has become commonplace in the U.S.

The above tweet lays out around 200 videos showing the blatant use of excessive force against peaceful protesters by various police departments across the nation. The videos show protesters with hands up chanting things like “This is what democracy looks like” before police officers fire rubber bullets and tear gas into the crowds. There have been GoFundMe accounts set up to help protesters who have been maimed by rubber bullets pay for their medical bills after losing their eyes or being shot in the face.

The unrest has left governors, mayors, and the president of the United States unsettled and they are beginning to deliver on protesters’ demands.

Mayor Garcetti gives briefing regarding demonstrations for racial justice, June 3

Tonight I’m talking about needed changes to policing.

Posted by Mayor Eric Garcetti on Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti held a press conference Wednesday evening announcing changes to policing practices. LAPD has been criticized throughout the Black Lives Matter protests of excessive force against peaceful protesters demanding justice.

Some of the changes to LAPD announced by Mayor Garcetti include a moratorium on adding names to CalGang, hiring an independent prosecutor to prosecute police officers accused of misconduct, and cutting $100 to $150 million from the LAPD budget to reinvest into Black communities.

LAPD currently uses $1.86 billion of the city’s allocated budget.

LA’s annual budget is $10.5 billion meaning that LAPD makes up almost 18 percent of the total allocated budget. However, LAPD eats up 54 percent of LA’s “unrestricted” general funds revenue. The “unrestricted” general funds revenue is created through taxes that have not been earmarked for specific projects voted on by LA residents. According to the LA Times, the “unrestricted” general funds revenue boosts LAPD’s total annual budget from LA to $3 billion.

LAPD was set to receive an increase of more than $120 million to the budget.

The budget was approved by default because the City Council failed to vote on the matter by the deadline. The budget is set to go into effect on July 1st. The increase to the LAPD budget comes at a time when every other department in the LA government is taking budget cuts due to deficits.

The announcement by Mayor Garcetti is facing criticism because it isn’t enough for the protesters. The budget slashes to LAPD are in reality the city council and mayor’s office not allowing for the approved budget increase to take effect for LAPD.

People in favor of cutting the LAPD budget to reinvest in communities of color are pointing out that a lot of money goes to LAPD to pay settlements.

LAPD has had to pay out hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements from lawsuits against the department. An LA Times analysis found that in 2017, LAPD paid more than $200 million in total legal costs, less than the proposed budget cuts announced by Mayor Garcetti.

The People’s Budget 2020-2021 has gained more popularity as people have taken to the streets to protest against the police. The People’s Budget took a look at the “unrestricted” general funds revenue and reallocated the money to programs and needs of the city. Under the People’s Budget, which was worked on by 10,000 people, LAPD would receive 5.7 percent of the funds as opposed to the 54 percent they currently receive.

READ: Protestors In Puerto Rico Bringing A Guillotine To The Governor’s Mansion Is Just Another Reminder Boricua’s Don’t Mess Around

The Trailer For ‘The Last Days Of American Crime’ Is A Pulse-Pounding Thriller You Need

Entertainment

The Trailer For ‘The Last Days Of American Crime’ Is A Pulse-Pounding Thriller You Need

Netflix / YouTube

Édgar Ramírez is one of the most handsome men in Hollywood, tbh. It helps that he is good at what he does as well. The Venezuelan actor and former journalist is in a new movie from Netflix called “The Last Days of American Crime.”

Imagine the story of the last crime ever committed in the U.S.

Netflix’s “The Last Days of American Crime” is a visual retelling of the famous graphic novel. The story is one of crime, big government, and action rolled into one film. Édgar Ramírez plays criminal Graham Bricke and he is after that proverbial last score before committing a crime in the U.S. becomes impossible.

The criminals in the movie are fighting against the implementation of a device the hinders criminals motionless. The device emits a sound that freezes them in their place preventing them from committing any crimes. Bricke experiences the device when robbing a bank and his brother dies.

The rest of the story is one of pursuing the ultimate final heist and getting revenge. The movie will leave you on the edge of your seat while you watch the criminals do everything in their power to make sure their last score is the best and most historic.

“The Last Days of American Crime” is out June 5 on Netflix.

Netflix has been delivering some stellar content with Latino actors in the leads. The trailer for “The Last Days of American Crime” promises a crime thriller with all of the emotional ups and downs you can handle.

READ: Edgar Ramirez Shocked Jimmy Fallon When He Shared Details From The Set Of ‘The Assassination Of Gianni Versace’