Zoe Saldana is busy. She just launched Bese, a Latinx-focused digital media company focused on creating content for millennial and Gen Z audiences. I spoke with her about why she’s starting a media company now.
“Growing up as an American, a first generation American, the marginalization of people of color in mainstream media is rather hurtful, because you’re sort of blatantly omitted from the American narrative. And you find yourself trying to find a way to feel present and to feel served and to also feel relevant as an American and as a taxpayer and voter and American civilian. So as soon as I had my sons, I didn’t want my children to have to fight twice as hard to earn their Americanship. So I thought ‘okay let me just help my country by encouraging mainstream media to evolve so it can better represent the America that is out there today.'”
The Latinx community comprises of about 18% of the U.S. population. But they are only 4% of newsrooms and less than 2% of news producers. Stories about Latinxs are less than 1% of news media coverage, and the majority of it has been negative.
“The representation of Latinos in mainstream media is really poor. Usually the news that is out there is negative news of breaking the law. So there’s all these hidden figures of people of Latino decent that since they came to America they have been impacting the very fabric of our nation, and yet we don’t really know who they are. In reality, we are not really representing a big chunk of Americans right now by allowing those numbers to be what they are. It is our duty to help our nation evolve…the power of role models for young minds is just primordial. When a child has role models and people that he feels reflected through, then he is able to cultivate aspiration for his self or her self.”
Saldana wants to have more accurate portrayal of what America looks like: “I think it is important that we continue to have a more accurate portrayal of what America is today by representing people properly. And that’s all that I try to do….I have a choice. Either I join the voices of the defeated and I allow myself to be bitter, or I join the voices of the pioneers who are looking to reshape our narrative.”
Despite the terrible news coverage, Saldana remains hopeful. “We’re not gonna allow fear to paralyze us from making decisions and choosing proper leaders, regardless of their cultural heritage.”
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