TV

Queer Latinx Voices Are Front And Center On Starz’s “Vida”

"We don't get to [tell stories about] brown, queer femaleness," says writer-creator Tanya Saracho.

A new Starz series is bringing the queer Latinx experience to life: Vida, created by queer Mexican-American writer Tanya Saracho (Looking, How to Get Away With Murder), follows estranged sisters Emma (Mishel Prada) and Lyn (Melissa Barrera), who return to East L.A. and learn a surprising truth about their mother.

Emma’s tumultuous history with Cruz (Maria Elena Laas), a lesbian, is a major plot point and Vida’s cast also includes Eddy, a queer woman played by gender-nonbinary actor Ser Anzoategui.

Starz

It’s a timely story, says Barrera, especially in an age where Americans with dual identities are “reminded that they are not home.”

Saracho, who’s also written for Devious Maids and HBO’s Girls, admits its rare to get such creative freedom, especially for a double minority. “We don’t get to do this… [Tell stories about] brown, queer femaleness,” she said at a Television Critics Association panel last month.

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Indeed, GLAAD’s 2016-2017 “Where We Are On TV” report found that only 6% of all LGBT characters on broadcast networks—four out of 107 total characters—were Latinx. But Vida’s representation extends behind the camera as well: “I wanted an all-Latinx writers room,” said Saracho (above right, with Barrera). “All the directors are women of color or Latinx. My [collaborating] executive at Starz has a ’z’ in her last name, Fernandez. There, I don’t have to be a cultural ambassador.”

 

Vida premieres May 6 on Starz.

New York-based writer, editor, and bisexual babe. Enjoys tattoos, iced Americanos, and dismantling the patriarchy.