Los Angeles Confidential is proud to present Latinx Heritage, a dedicated initiative spotlighting outstanding creatives in television and film who are devoting their craft to tell stories focused on a wide variety of cultural experiences and the unique identities their ethnicities help to shape and create.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY: LESLIE ALEJANDRO
At 45 years old, Kevin Alejandro continues to stack hyphenates to an already wildly successful career that includes acclaimed roles in Southland, True Blood and, of course, Lucifer. Today, Alejandro is not just the star of the Netflix global hit series, but also a filmmaker, director and co-founder of Alejandro Films.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START ALEJANDRO FILMS?
My wife bought me a little handheld digital video recorder when our son was born 13 years ago. Several years later I started using it to make little short films, to challenge myself to see if I could tell a story. I then started a YouTube channel called Alejandro Films, and through those short films that I made for no money I got into the Warner Bros Directors Program.
THAT WAS FOUR YEARS AGO. AND SINCE THEN YOUR DIRECTING CAREER HAS QUICKLY EVOLVED?
I directed four episodes of Lucifer, which was an experience that allowed me to cut my teeth with the most amazing team of filmmakers I know. It was them who vouched for me. They had my back, to the point where I got to direct the season premiere of Season Six and the penultimate finale of all.
HOW DID YOUR HERITAGE IMPACT YOUR CAREER?
When I was acting in Texas, I never got, “He’s too Hispanic.” I came from theater where it was always about doing the work. Then I got to Hollywood and signed with a small management company where they convinced me for a small second to change my name to Alexander. I remember thinking, “This is what you have to do in Hollywood? And because I look white that’s an advantage?”
PHOTOGRAPHY BY: CHARLEY GALLAY
ALL THINGS COMEDY
Al Madrigal has had roles in everything from sitcoms to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart where he was the “Senior Latino Correspondent.” These days, the 49-year-old Mexican-American entertainer, whose full name is Alessandro Liborio Madrigal, is on a major career roll, one that taps all his talents comedian, actor, writer and producer.
TELL US ABOUT THE ALL THINGS COMEDY NETWORK.
It’s a podcast network that was founded in 2012 by me and fellow comedian Bill Burr. It’s insane but what started with only 10 podcasts has grown over nine years into the largest comedy podcast network in the world and number 11 among all podcast networks! ATC is also a bustling production company with a bunch of amazing TV and film projects in development.
HOW HAS ATC EVOLVED TO THE PLATFORM IT IS TODAY?
Once word got out that we were starting the network it just snowballed. More than anything, Bill and I value the relationships we have built within our network and want to make sure we do right by all of our funny friends.
WHY IS LATINX REPRESENTATION IN COMEDY SO IMPORTANT?
Latinos and Latinas make up nearly 20 percent of the population of the US, but account for only about five percent of the characters in film and TV. It’s really sad considering the power we have as consumers. This massive and underserved population needs to see themselves represented on television and in comedy, so they know that these jobs in the entertainment industry exist, to know that creative jobs are attainable, and to know that they matter.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY: TRACY NGUYEN
HULU: PLAN B
For actress Victoria Moroles, the call to creativity came early in life during days spent in her uncle’s art studio. Today, the 25-year-old is blazing her own creative trail with a rapidly growing list of roles to her credit, including Disney Channel’s Liv & Maddie, Teen Wolf and Down a Dark Hall. Today she stars in Hulu teen quest comedy Plan B, directed by actress-turned-director Natalie Morales (Dead to Me, Parks & Rec).
WHAT DREW YOU TO PLAN B AND WHAT CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR CHARACTER LUPE?
When I read the script, I thought, “Wow, this is a very heightened (hilarious) take on the reality of accessibility to sexual health care/reproductive care for girls and women.”
WHAT WAS IT LIKE WORKING WITH PLAN B DIRECTOR NATALIE MORALES?
Working with Natalie was one of the best creative experiences I’ve ever had. I could count on her honesty and understanding of Lupe — I think that alone makes a huge difference for any actor. I’m still pinching myself that it happened.
DO YOU HAVE ANY FAVORITE BEHIND THE SCENES MOMENTS FROM FILMING?
It was the first time to be back on set in the middle of a pandemic, so I was genuinely so thrilled to just show up every day and work with all of these brilliant people.
WHY IS LATINX REPRESENTATION SO IMPORTANT IN FILM AND TV?
It’s not only necessary, it’s crucial. In every position, writers, execs, sound mixers, gaffers, assistant directors, all of it. It’s crucial because this kind of portrayal in story directly effects the whole Latinx community, but especially our Latinx youth. My uncle was a granite sculptor starting in the early 80’s and to see him break barriers as a Mexican artist, especially within the fine arts world was life changing for me. I don’t think I would’ve become an artist had it not been for him.
PHOTO COURTESY: DASCHA POLANCO
WARNER BROS. PICTURES: IN THE HEIGHTS
While Dascha Polanco is best known for her role in Orange Is the New Black, the Dominican actress’ CV boasts no shortage of Industry cred: Netflix’s Emmy Award nominated When They See Us, Academy Award nominated film The Irishman, FX’s Emmy Award winning series The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, and Golden Globe Award nominated film Joy by director David O’Russell. This summer, the the 38-year-old actress/activist can be seen in Warner Bros.’ Brothers’ film adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony Award winning musical In the Heights.
WHAT INITIALLY DREW YOU TO IN THE HEIGHTS AND THE ROLE OF CUCA?
It’s a brand-new role, alongside the other salon ladies Daniela & Carla. Cuca is someone who keeps the party going and brings positivity to the community.
WHAT WAS IT LIKE WORKING WITH THE INCREDIBLE LATINX CAST OF IN THE HEIGHTS AND ON A FILM THAT CELEBRATES LATINX CULTURE?
There was a lot of dancing, sweating, tears, and laughter but also unity, joy and fun.
WHY IS LATINX REPRESENTATION IN FILM AND TV SO IMPORTANT?
Latinx representation is of great significance because it’s about sharing perspectives and telling stories without bias, a true reflection of the human experience.
WHAT PROJECTS ARE NEXT UP ON THE HORIZON?
Next up I will be starring in the upcoming MGM superhero thriller film, Samaritan opposite Sylvester Stallone.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY: OLGA LARIS
ana de la REGUERA
UNIVERSAL PICTURES: THE FOREVER PURGE
From telenovelas to studio blockbusters, Ana de la Reguera’s career spans languages, genres and streaming mediums. Today the 44-year-old Mexican-born actress toggles between full-scale Hollywood productions to far more intimate projects like ANA, a semi-autobiographical comedy series which she created, wrote and produced.
YOU’RE STARRING IN TWO OF SUMMER’S HOTTEST BLOCKBUSTERS — ARMY OF THE DEAD AND FOREVER PURGE. WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO THOSE PROJECTS AND WHAT WAS IT LIKE TAKING ON THOSE ROLES?
They were both strong female characters and at the same time completely different, so I couldn’t resist being able to play these opposites. I felt extremely grateful to have had these opportunities.
YOU ALSO CREATED, WROTE, AND PRODUCED THE COMEDY SERIES ANA. HOW DID YOU EXPAND INTO WRITING AND PRODUCING AND WHAT WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE BEHIND THE CAMERA?
It was literally zero. It started seven years ago with the idea of having a show inspired by my life. I wanted to share my experiences and my deepest curiosities with an audience. Especially with Latinx audiences, because I wasn’t seeing anything like that in Spanish. I had never created something before, so it took a lot of preparation and rejection until it was the right moment for everyone. I just never gave up and kept working on trying to make it better until it happened.
WHY IS LATINX REPRESENTATION IN FILM AND TV SO IMPORTANT?
I think all representation is important, but especially having us in unexpected roles. That’s what needs to become the norm.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY: DIMA OTVERTCHENKO
NETFLIX: SELENA: THE SERIES
Creating Selena: The Series was the “opportunity of a lifetime,” says Moisés Zamora. As the creator/executive producer/co-showrunner of the Netflix series, the award-winning Mexican-American writer and filmmaker has previously written for the Emmy-winning drama American Crime, and Star on Fox.
TELL US ABOUT BRINGING SELENA’S STORY TO LIFE AND TAKING ON SUCH AN ICON?
Selena is the Mexican-American dream come true. For an immigrant like myself, she represents the best of both worlds and is a role model to follow. When I first heard I was meeting with the producers who had the rights to develop a series about Selena Quintanilla’s life, I overprepared. The meeting was over two hours long. I got the job the next day.
WHAT WAS IT LIKE TELLING THE NARRATIVE OF THE QUINTANILLA FAMILY?
Working with the Quintanilla family in telling their story was an honor, and also quite emotional. I spent a week interviewing Abraham, Suzette and A.B. When we were writing the episodes in the writers’ room, we also felt the emotional weight of telling their iconic family story.
SELENA: THE SERIES HAS BEEN MET WITH BOTH CRITICAL AND POPULAR ACCLAIM - WHAT HAS IT BEEN LIKE SEEING THE REACTION TO THE SERIES?
She’s so loved by everyone that it was always going to be difficult to meet everyone’s expectations. Instead, we poured our souls into the project, knowing that we were introducing Selena’s story to new generations and a global audience.