Entertainment

Inspired By Her Role As Blanca On ‘Orange Is The New Black,’ Laura Gómez Uses Her Instagram to Share Immigrant Stories

Season 7 of “Orange Is The New Black” saw the ladies of Spanish Harlem portray the real-life struggles of detained immigrants. One such migrant story was the one following Blanca, a woman who is wrongfully imprisoned and whose bad legal advice causes her to her imprisoned by ICE. Laura Gómez, the actress who portrayed Blanca in the series, played the part with a fierce authenticity. 

Though the role started as a smart part, Blanca’s story evolved into one of the most captivating of Season 7.  

However, we weren’t the only ones moved by Blanca’s story. Gómez herself was deeply touched by Blanca’s ICE detention storyline. 

View this post on Instagram

It was Summer time when I received the notification for a small -possible recurring role- in a “web series” by #JenjiKohan on a new revolutionary online platform called @netflix. The character description read something like #BlancaFlores: crazy Dominican woman in bathroom. She talks to the devil on the phone.” @jen_euston was the CD. I felt the audition went well, but Jen said I might be too pretty for the role. “I have a Picasso side,” I jokingly replied, but left convinced that once again I probably wouldn’t get the part. I had recently quit my job and was taking filmmaking courses so I got busy directing my first short film. Then about two days later I got the call, never imagining that a show created by a woman, bringing relevant if controversial topics about the prison system to the table, with such unconventional & diverse cast would help put #Netflix on the map, changing the concept of streaming service and how we watch television forever. Tonight is the Premiere of our last season and we have embraced that fact saying goodbye to a unique time in our lives. #BlancaFlores taught me never to judge a book by its cover, and reminded me, like Stanislavsky said, that there are no small roles! #endofanera #newbeginnings ????Cuando audicioné para el rol de Blanca Flores en una nueva “serie-web” creada por #JenjiKohan, la directora de casting me dijo que tal vez era muy bonita para el rol. Le dije que tengo un lado Picasso y nos reímos, pero me fui convencida de que una vez más sería rechazada. En ese tiempo había renunciado a mi trabajo asi que me enfoqué en mis clases de cine, y en dirigir mi primer corto. Dos días después recibí la llamada de que había sido seleccionada para el personaje. El resto es historia. Nunca imaginamos que un show creado por una mujer sobre temas de reforma carcelaria, con un elenco tan poco convencional ayudaría a poner a #Netflix en el mapa, cambiando el formato TV, ni que representaría tanto cambio en nuestras vidas y la de nuestra audiencia. Hoy que es la Premiere de la última temporada, y reflexionando sobre este personaje, me percato y recuerdo que las apariencias engañan y como bien dice Stanislavsky, que no hay roles pequeños.

A post shared by Laura Gómez (@mslauragomez) on

The “Orange Is The New Black” star shared with Page Six in a recent interview how the series has impacted her life. According to Gómez, since the end of Season 6 — when Blanca was shown being removed from the prison and entering ICE lockup — fans of the series have reached out to the actress with their concerns for her character. This caused Gómez to reflect on how she was able to uplift migrants and their stories. 

“I feel very grateful to been part of the journey and the storytelling of what it meant for Blanca to go into a detention center, and what it means politically right now, in terms of where we’re living in society,” Gómez told Page Six. “It felt urgent and important because of the immense response that I got…I started to get emotional about the responses I was getting.”

The reactions Gómez got to the ICE storyline made her reflect on the very real stories of actual immigrants and the difficulty they’re currently going through because of our political atmosphere. 

Netflix

Due to this response, Gómez wanted to use her platform as a popular actress to shine a light on these real immigrant stories. 

“I felt compelled and inspired to start this series, it actually came from my friends,” the actress explained. “A friend of mine had a tee shirt that said ‘Immigrants: we get the job done.’ I took a photo, and I felt compelled to talk a little bit about her. I felt like, wow, this is a person who’s an immigrant, who is doing an amazing job and is having a very positive impact in American society and that’s how it started.”

From that first picture, Gómez began a series of Instagram posts called “Immigrant Stories by Laura Gómez” — a weekly series that explores immigrant life.

  Instagram / @mslauragomez

In the first installment of the series, Gómez featured her friend Anabelle Soto. A photographer who is responsible for many of Gómez’s gorgeous portraits, Soto is an immigrant making a positive impact on her community and — according to the “OITNB” actress — is “an immigrant superhero.”

Since the first post, Gómez has featured an immigrant’s story every Thursday on her Instagram account.

 Instagram / @mslauragomez

While all posts show how the migrants use their talents and know-how to improve their communities, some include personal anecdotes that show the personal impact these friends, family members, and neighbors can have on our lives. This post features Adam Gagan, a former neighbor of Gómez’s who helped her with her physical limitations following her first knee surgery. He would haul her groceries and packages up to her 4th-floor walk-up while the star recovered. That’s what we call kindness and we should see more of it in our world. 

This post shared the story of one of Gómez’s fellow Latina actresses.

Instagram / @mslauragomez

A Cuban-American actress, Maggie Bofill met Gómez while they were both during theater in New York. She’s a first generation citizen from Chicago — her parents having fled from Cuba back in the 1960s. As Gómez explains in her post, Bofill did not have a connection with her Latinx heritage until she moved to New York and was able to meet the local Latinx people in the theater world. She’s the founding member of Labyrinth Theater Company — which received the nickname “Latino Acting Base” or LAB. 

The immigrants in Gómez’s stories are also community leaders who make a difference in the lives of other marginalized people

Instagram / @mslauragomez

Originally from Argentina, Cecilia Gentili is an advocate and community leader. She started off as an intern for the LGBT Community Center in New York City and later managed the Transgender Health Program at the Apicha Community Health Center. Through her work, she has trained thousands of individuals about topics like LGBTQ inclusion, immigration, drug use, sexual health, trans sensitivity, and intersectionality. Truly, Gentili’s work is making her community and other communities more inclusive and safer for marginalized folks. 

Gómez’s Instagram saga is exactly how stars should use their platforms to lift up others with important stories to share. This is what advocacy looks like and we need more show like “Orange Is The New Black” to discuss the issues impacting our world. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsU6sfE_KuQ

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Report Shows That Immigration Narratives On TV Are Latinx-Focused And Over-Emphasize Crime

Entertainment

Report Shows That Immigration Narratives On TV Are Latinx-Focused And Over-Emphasize Crime

The media advocacy group Define American recently released a study that focused on the way immigrant characters are depicted on television. The second-annual study is entitled “Change the Narrative, Change the World”.

Although the study reports progress in some areas of onscreen representation, there is still a long way to go.

For example, the study reported that half of the immigrant characters depicted on television are Latino, which is consistent with reality. What is not consistent with reality, however, is how crime-related storylines are still an overrepresented theme in these storylines.

The study shows that on television 22% of immigrant characters have crime storylines show up as part of their narratives. These types of storylines further pedal the false narrative that immigrants are criminals, when in reality, they’re just everyday people who are trying to lives their best lives. Ironically, this statistic is an improvement on the previous year’s statistics in which crime themes made up 34% of immigrants’ stories on TV.

These numbers are further proof that the media feels stories of Latino immigration have to be about sadness and hardship in order to be worth watching.

According to Define American’s website, their organization believes that “powerful storytelling is the catalyst that can reshape our country’s immigration narrative and generate significant cultural change.”

They believe that changing the narratives depicted in entertainment media can “reshape our country’s immigration narrative and generate significant cultural change.” 

“We wanted to determine if seeing the specific immigration storylines influenced [viewers’] attitudes, behavior, or knowledge in the real world,” said Sarah Lowe, the associate director of research and impact at Define American to Variety. “And we were reassured and inspired to see the impact it had.” 

Define American’s founder, Jose Antonio Vargas, is relatively optimistic about the study’s outcomes, saying that the report has “some promising findings” and the numbers “provide [him] with hope”. He added that there are still “many areas in which immigrant representation can improve”.

via Getty Images

Namely, Vargas was disappointed in television’s failure to take an intersectional approach to immigration in regards to undocumented Black immigrants. 

“Black undocumented immigrants are detained and deported at higher rates than other ethnic groups,” Vargas told Variety. “But their stories are largely left off-screen and left out of the larger narrative around immigration.” 

“Change the Narrative, Change the World” also showed that Asian and Pacific Islander immigrants are also under-represented on television compared with reality. Also worth noting, male immigrants were over-represented on television compared to reality, while immigrants with disabilities were also under-represented.

The study also showed that when viewers are exposed to TV storylines that humanize immigrants, they’re more likely to take action on immigration issues themselves. 

The effect that fictional entertainment narratives have on viewers further proves that representation does, indeed, matter. What we watch as entertainment changes the way we think about other people’s lived experiences. And that, in turn, can change the world.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

A Group Of TPS Beneficiaries Are Touring The Country In A Bus To Save The Crucial Immigration Program

Things That Matter

A Group Of TPS Beneficiaries Are Touring The Country In A Bus To Save The Crucial Immigration Program

tps_alliance / Instagram

Updated September 23, 2020

A coalition of people is coming together to stand up for Temporary Protected Status beneficiaries. Federal judges recently gave the Trump administration the approval to end the status for 300,000 people in the U.S.

A group of Temporary Protect Status holders is on a road trip to save the program for 300,000 people.

The National TPS Alliance is driving across the country to engage voters about the need to protect the program. The “Road to Justice” road tour started in Los Angeles and will be stopping in 54 cities in 32 states. The tour ends in Washington, D.C. where the TPS holders will petition Congress directly to save the program.

The program was started in 1990 and offers safe refuge for people who’s countries have experienced disaster, civil unrest, or other extraordinary circumstances. Some people who have been granted TPS in the U.S. include Central Americans after Hurricane Mitch, the second-largest hurricane in the Atlantic, devastated large swaths of the region in 1998. Haitians were also given TPS after the earthquake that devastated Port Au Prince in 2010.

The organization is hoping to engage voters and get them to care about the immigration crisis facing the nation. Activists have already praised the group and pledged to support their cause at the ballot box.

“We are going to vote for justice, for the TPS community,” Angélica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, told NBC News. “President (Trump) and his administration are racist and do not care about the damage they are causing to our community.”

Original: A federal court just handed a huge ‘victory’ to the Trump administration, which has been eager to restart mass deportations. Despite a global health pandemic, the administration has been pressing forward with plans to deport hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants.

Until now, many of these migrants were safe from deportation thanks to Temporary Protected Status, which shields some immigrants from deportation under humanitarian claims. However, the recent court decision – in San Francisco’s 9th Circuit – gives Trump exactly what he wants right before the elections.

But how will it affect immigrant communities across the country? Here’s everything you need to know about this major decision.

The 9th Circuit Court just ended TPS for more than 300,000 undocumented immigrants.

A California appeals court on Monday gave the Trump Administration permission to end Temporary Protected Status for immigrants from El Salvador, Nicaragua, Haiti, and Sudan, clearing the way for officials to force more than 300,000 immigrants out of the country.

The decision affects people from all walks of life, many of whom have lived in the U.S. for decades, have U.S.-born children and have been considered essential workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

This week’s ruling from the circuit court comes after a district court (also in California) temporarily halted Trump’s plan to end TPS in late 2018 after a group of lawyers sued, arguing that Trump was motivated by racial discrimination.

“The president’s vile statements about TPS holders made perfectly clear that his administration acted out of racial animus,”Ahilan Arulanantham, a lawyer for the ACLU of Southern California, wrote in a statement. “The Constitution does not permit policy to be driven by racism. We will seek further review of the court’s decision.”

But today’s 2-1 decision reversed the district court’s temporary order and allowed the federal government to take away TPS protections while the court case continues.

ICE and DHS has promised to wait several months before taking away TPS status if the agency won in court. As a result, the ACLU told NPR that it expects the protections to start ending no sooner than March, meaning that Joe Biden could reverse the administration’s decision if he wins in November, though the organization plans to fight back in the meantime.

Temporary Protected Status was created to protect people in the U.S. from being sent back to dangerous places – and it’s saved lives.

Credit: Daniel Ortega / Getty Images

The TPS program was first introduced in 1990, and it has protected immigrants from more than 20 countries at various points since then. More than 300,000 people from 10 different nations currently use the program, some of whom have lived and worked in the United States for decades.

Trump has sharply criticized the program, sometimes along racial lines, and in one infamous and widely criticized incident two years ago, the president reportedly referred to the program’s beneficiaries as “people from shithole countries.”

TPS provides protection for short periods of up to 18 months, but the federal government has continuously extended it for the countries mentioned in the lawsuit “based on repeated findings that it remains unsafe to return.” 

As a result, it said, most TPS holders have been living in the U.S. for more than a decade, contributing to their communities and raising their families. Many of the more than 200,000 U.S.-citizen children of TPS holders have never been to the country their parents are from and would have to choose between their families and their homes.

The ruling will have a major impact on migrant families and communities across the U.S.

Credit: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Immigration advocacy groups are slamming the court’s ruling, noting it will impact hundreds of thousands of TPS holders as well as their families and communities. In a statement, Beth Werlin, executive director of the American Immigration Council, said the decision will “plunge their lives into further turmoil at a time when we all need greater certainty.” 

As the global pandemic stretches on, immigrants with protected status make up a large portion of the country’s front-line workers. More than 130,000 TPS recipients are essential workers, according to the Center for American Progress. 

“TPS recipients have deep economic and social roots in communities across the nation,” said Ali Noorani, president and CEO of the National Immigration Forum. “And, as the U.S. responds to the COVID-19 pandemic, TPS recipients are standing shoulder to shoulder with Americans and doing essential work.”

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com