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We Live Here Auténtico! | Emilia Serrano's Auténtica Unlocks Hollywood Gold

Emilia Serrano
Serrano Selfies
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Emilia Serrano

Latin TV writer, Emilia Serrano is no stranger to uncomfortable scenarios. She knows what it’s like to feel like a fish out of water and to struggle with internal identity crises as a first-generation daughter of immigrant parents.

As a teenager, Emilia and her family moved from Union City, California to Troy, Missouri. The small, mid-western town was as unfamiliar to her as she was to it. She had only known the predominantly Spanish-speaking community of her youth. In California, she wasn’t diverse either. She grew up constantly surrounded only by Latinos and her family. It was a culture shock for her.

Emilia Gabby Kids
family photo
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Sisters and cousins. Emilia in yellow. Gabriela in sundress.

Those experiences shaped her so profoundly that they became inspirational gold for America’s BIG Screen. Along the way, she would use those experiences as story points for humor or something that someone else could relate to and she's taken her stories all the way to Hollywood!

“Sometimes all the crappy things and all your trauma can actually make you money down on paper”, she quips. “It was oftentimes such a struggle and culturally challenging, but then that's exactly what helps me write stories now.”

Her time in America's Heartland and the nurturing influence of her community and family honed her skill as a “Son”-solid storyteller in her own right. Her dad (a mechanic) and her mom (a mariachi-singer) guided her to fight through tough battles and to find her voice. She is proud of her Mexican American culture and her authentic stories reflect her passion to see more inclusive onscreen characters who reflect the real people in her life and culture.

And she’s winning!

Emilia Serrano is co-executive producer of major network television shows like, Promised Land, Mixed*Ish and High School Musical - The Series. Emilia’s creativity and skills have attracted the attention of major production houses. She recently sold exclusive content to Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions and for actress, producer and director, America Ferrera.

In this episode:

  • What is code switching?
  • What inspires Emilia’s writing for the Silver Screen
  • Where she gets her captivating storytelling ability and learned how use her voice to command attention
  • The routine she employs when writing a feature
  • How our stories and experiences, as well as our traumas and challenges, shape who we are and the ways we navigate life
  • Ways Ranchera Music is much like Mariachi Music
  • Her mantra, “Stick to Your Truth”, and ways it gives her power
  • Challenges of leading positive change and shaping Latinx identity in the entertainment industry
  • How the wide popularity and consumption of Latino media translates to actual Latino representation (or not)
  • How representation in media contributes to visibility, identity, belief
  • Mistakes that Hollywood continues to make
  • Why she only works on Brown and Black shows
  • How to minimize stereotypes, advance dialog and develop a layered story
  • What makes a good story?
  • What’s next for Emilia’s big hits

Learn more:IG: @mexemilia

Emiliaserrano.com

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.