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Scholarship Recipient Breaks Down Latino Stereotypes

 

Martha Rodriguez

 

For San Diego State University (SDSU) junior and FACIUNI scholarship recipient, Martha Rodriguez, seeing Latino representation in film continues to be one of the most important things while working through her Television, Film, and New Media (TFM) production degree. Growing up, neither she nor her parents saw many people of Chicano, Latino, Mexican or Hispanic heritage in film or on TV. As a first-generation college student and TFM major, Martha chose to use her voice, experience as a Mexican- American and filmmaking skills to begin shifting the narrative and increase representation for the Latino community.

 

“I don’t want anyone to feel abandoned, scared or question their identity because they can’t identify themselves on screen. Hopefully those stories will erase the stereotypes and misconceptions of Latinos and Hispanics that we [see in the U.S.] today,” shared Martha.

 

NAVIGATING THE INDUSTRY AS A FIRST-GENERATION COLLEGE STUDENT

Filling out college applications and moving away from home isn’t easy as a first-generation college student. First-generation students often face imposter-syndrome, don’t bring up their struggles in college to their parents and don’t ask for help as often because they were raised to push forward on their own. While it hasn’t been easy to navigate college and the film industry as a first-generation college student, Martha gives credit to her department, mentors and fellow filmmakers for helping her persevere. While still a college student, Martha has already accomplished so much for herself, the Latino community, her film department, increased representation for Latino culture on film and helped fight the stigma around the LGBTQIA+ community. 

 

EXPANDING OPPORTUNITIES FOR LATINO ACTORS AND CHARACTERS

 

 

Martha met her co-director Jonathan Sotelo in her screenwriting class, where she immediately bonded over his film that details a character’s coming out story. Martha knew she had to open his story up to the Latino audience and worked with Jonathan to translate and create, Chips and Salsa, which tells the coming out story of Joaquin, a Mexican-American, who comes out to their family before Christmas dinner. For Martha, Chips and Salsa was more than just a coming out story, it is one of the few films that showcases LGBTQIA+ representation in a Latino household. The film won the Best Spanish Language Short category at AT&T’s Film Awards and opened the door for Martha to attend a summer bridge program at the University of Southern California, one of her dream schools and top choice for her master’s program.

 

WHAT SHE HOPES FOR THE FUTURE

Martha’s biggest advice for others is to be true to yourself, find mentors who believe in you and help you move forward. It only takes one person to make a change. The next time someone looks up at the screen, Martha hopes they’ll see more people who look like them.

 

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