We’ve hit the ground running after an incredible week in Miami at Hispanicize this March – an event focused on Latino trendsetters and news makers in journalism, blogging, marketing, entertainment and tech entrepreneurship! We interviewed nearly 30 different mega influencers within the Latino community, and connected with hundreds of other incredible ñ’s and fr’ñ. Along the way, we lived and breathed the Cuban culture and we’ve been dying to share how we got “Hispanicized!”
There were so many highlights throughout this trip, including amazing media interviews with Hugo Balta at ESPN and Puerto Rican actor, Luis Guzmán! We wish we could show them all to you, but Denise’s reaction truly sets the scene. After waiting two years to sit down with legendary salsa bassist, Sal Cuevas, we finally landed the interview at his home in Miami. Cuevas has played with some of the greats — from Celia Cruz to JLo, Gloria Estefan and Harry Belafonte, and even Billy Idol!
This was very much a re-energizing experience for Project ñ. We were able to connect our message with hundreds of other ñ and hopefully thousands throughout the Latino community. Denise explains, “…If I’m an ñ, that means I’m enough. It’s a mosaic of stories.” We’re telling their story and hopefully affecting a choice that this generation is struggling with, riding the cultural line between being American enough and also being from a Spanish-speaking country.
Denise: We arrived on Monday at 4:45 am. I remember as soon as I got off the plane my body felt it, my heart felt it and my hair definitely looked like it, from normal to out to here in 60 seconds flat, how amazing it felt to be back in Miami. I spent all my 20s in Miami and I kind of had a little bit of rebirth while I lived there. We headed straight to Hispanicize (music) and then I see the room of these Teccla Awards that we were going to go into. I see the red carpet and all of a sudden Henry hands me a microphone and he said, “Denise, go out there and talk to some people, we have a crew, you need to get some people on camera” and I grabbed the mike which we had with a really cool ñ sticker and started walking around. >> We have 160,000 American-born Latinos. >> Americanas. People were milling around and talking to each other and saying “who is that?” That was hilarious; they were all wondering who is the frizzy-haired short girl from Denver. The next highlight was we had all the press interviews. We sat down with Miami New Times, we sat down with CNN, we sat down with a gal from Texas, we sat down with a gal from El Nuevo Herald. We interviewed some extraordinary people. We met Hugo and it was a great first interview, he had the funniest ñ stories where he explained how people treat him sometimes. Hugo: One of the persons that I met said to me, “Nice to meet you, my name is blah blah.” and I would say, “Well, nice to meet you too.” and she would say, “Oh, you speak perfect English”. I studied grade school, middle school, high school, university in the United States. I hope I can put sentences together.
Denise: There is nothing quite like the connection I had with some of the people that we spoke to. I was just seeing a face of recognition and all of a sudden they started sharing personal stories and often times we were asked how this person could help us. It was like that over and over again with people just offering to help. There was this feeling in the air of connection because that’s what this project does, it connects people and one thing we knew we wanted before we left was an interview with Luis Guzman. The first thing you should know about Luis, he is warmer, more genuine. He is actually nicer than you would think.
Denise: Thank you very much for taking time for me today.
Luis: Oh my pleasure.
Denise: I appreciate it, I’m not gonna let you go. I am kind of nervous.
Luis: Okay, I got your back, I got your back.
Denise: What it feels like to kind of ride the cultural line between, for me, being Puerto Rican and then also being American. I had this epiphany one night because I thought it was a personal story and then I realize, wait, this a story of everybody. I wanna tell that story because the night when I had the epiphany I felt so connected to other people, who now I know I refer to as ñ, as generation ñ.
Denise: Yes, if I could create a film where they could see themselves and their stories being told and where they could see people grappling with the same issues they were grappling with that maybe it could affect a choice that they would make.
Luis: I have four wonderful children that I adopted. I have one of my own. One of my daughters kind of struggle with “am I black enough?”. “Am I white enough?” “Where am I?”
Denise: For me personally I never felt like I was Puerto Rican enough or American enough but if I am an ñ that means I am both and I am enough.
Luis: That’s amazing.
Denise: Thank you, it’s a mosaic of stories and now you’re gonna be a part of it. By day four we were exhausted and really after the trip I thought where in the world did I get this energy from? And then I remembered I have two babies (laughs) and when you have children, especially babies, you don’t know where the energy comes from. In a way, Project ñ is my baby. This huge interview that I have been waiting for now for two years, this gentleman name Sal Cuevas outside of the music world is not a very known name but Sal has actually played with all the greats in Latino music, everybody from Celia Cruz to JLo, Gloria Estefan, Harry Belafonte. He even played with Billy Idol. When all is said and done, we spent five hours with a music legend. Henry was there we had Abry, Lupe and David. Sharing Miami with my coworkers, sharing this intimate place where the inspiration of this entire project lived for me was very, very meaningful. Five people went down to Miami had an extraordinary time, met some amazing people connected this message with, hopefully, thousands of people and came back at two in the morning and hit the ground running.
Do you know an ñ with an amazing story? Tweet at us using #soyñ AND #beingñ so we can connect with you! Or join our private Facebook group and connect with other ñs or share your story!