Saúl Gomez Is on a Mission To Multiply Latinx Representation in the Podcast Industry and Beyond
Saúl Gomez is a do-it-yourself type of guy. From a very young age, Gomez knew that if he waited for any major media corporations to prioritize diversity in a way that was important to him, he’d be waiting a long time. So he went on and created his own production company, Inland Entertainment Network.
Gomez started the company in March 2021 and is already producing four podcasts, regularly hosting two of them, while also working on a short film and a pilot for an episodic series.
The podcasts — each with the “IE in” signature before the title — are called “Friends,” “Movies, “Foodie,” and “Besties,” the latter of which is an offshoot of the original “Friends” podcast and is hosted by Vanessa Cazarez and Stephanie Ramirez.
As the podcast titles suggest, the issues they talk about in each show are pretty self-explanatory, but that simplicity and straightforwardness have been the key to Gomez’s success thus far, despite his plans to expand IEN into something that encompasses much larger projects.
“In the future, I see IEN as a major production company where we produce films starring Latino actors,” he told mitú. “Just as normal characters living their life without the Hollywood Latino stereotype.”
But for now, podcasts have been a way to get IEN off the ground and help build their growing audience, even if that wasn’t what he envisioned for his company in the beginning.
“I honestly never thought I’d do podcasts because I am more of a visual guy who started off with skits on YouTube,” Gomez explained. “I didn’t think there was a market for audio-only content.”
That is until he started listening to podcasts himself while he was working as an Amazon driver. “I vividly remember searching ‘Mexican-American Friends podcast’ and ‘Latino Friends podcast’ and couldn’t find anything that was fitting my vibe,” he said. So he started to produce and even host his own podcasts.
One of the fan-favorite segments he does on “Friends” is called “Take the Mic,” where listeners have the opportunity to anonymously submit confessions and ask questions that are then read and discussed on the show in more detail.
“Take the Mic has to be one of my favorite segments because we get to connect and interact with our audience,” Gomez said.
When conceiving this segment, he wanted to create a place where listeners could go for guidance while still maintaining their anonymity, but also a space for him and the hosts to connect and interact with their audience more directly.
After creating a Google Forum for anonymous submissions, Gomez knew “we were going to get something wild.”
In one of those submissions, a woman and her ex-boyfriend had both asked for advice about their relationship in separate messages, giving Gomez and his co-hosts Cesar Sotelo and Aaron Caraveo an opportunity to listen and respond to both sides of the story.
Gomez’s main inspirations in his entrepreneurial career have been two of his favorite artists in the entertainment industry, the rapper Russ, for his independent spirit, and the hugely successful stand-up comedian Kevin Hart, for his work ethic.
“By following Russ, I’ve learned so much about trusting and betting on yourself,” Gomez explained. When it comes to Hart, he said it’s a matter of prolificity. “He is constantly working on new projects and dipping his toes in different industries,” he said. “If he can do that much work, why can’t I?”
However, with each subsequent success under Gomez’s belt — like the 114,000 followers he’s amassed on the “Friends” Instagram page or the 36,000 subscribers on the Inland Entertainment YouTube page — he’s had to consciously prioritize the time he spends with his family and friends. “Because what I do doesn’t feel like work,” he said, “it got so easy to be caught up in my work that for the past year I wasn’t spending time with my family as much as I wanted to,” he admitted.
As his shows grow in popularity and his schedule gets busier, he’s now made it a priority to surround himself with friends and family whenever possible and to always remember why he created Inland Entertainment Network in the first place, “The most important thing I’ve learned in this journey is to appreciate the now.”
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