Episode 011: Rick Najera & Charo Toledo, Why Hulu’s Hit Series East Los High Is A Game Changer For Latinos
The Hulu hit series, “East Los High,” is an online teen drama original that showcases how the power of the Latino audience is finally coming into focus. The show follows a group of Latino teens living in East Los Angeles and features Latinos both behind and in front of the camera. Ñ writers Rick Najera & Charo Toledo are bringing the flavor and breaking the mold of how Latinos are represented in entertainment.
Toledo, a Puerto Rican ñ, is giving the opportunity to ñ’s, who are grounded in both cultures, to eliminate the stereotypes and alter the monologue for Latina women in this industry. “At least in this show they have a voice,” she points out. Along side her, Najera, wants to balance the under representation of Latinos in the country and especially in entertainment. This new generation is changing the conditioning Latinos are used to not being included. But now, Najera explains, “…because of the democratization of the web our stories can be human, and it’s going to be beautiful.”
Charo: East High is an amazing show because people behind the camera and in front of the camera are all Latinos. We get to write Latino characters that are different.
Rick: It is one of the highest ranking shows in Hulu, so it just goes to tell you the power of the web and also the power of the Latino audience.
Charo: Season two dropped the 9th of July and the 12th they were picking it up for the third season because the kids bench watch.
Rick: It is content on demand, the writers of this show are great writers, they put their flavor, the Latino flavor authentic flavor, so we brought our flavor in and that’s what the show is about.
Charo: My name is Charo Toledo and I am an ñ writer.
Rick: I am Rick Nejera, writer, author, director, comedian, producer I do it all because I am the son of two ñ’s. (music)
Charo : I am from Puerto Rico. I was born and raised there but I went to—when I was eighteen I went Swarthmore College. My name is Matilde Rosario Toledo Davila and I was born at the end of a hurricane. So from Rosario, which is my middle name comes Charo, and Toledo and I thought — and that was my name. Everybody thinks about Hollywood. You have to go to Hollywood and you gotta go and make it like Rita Moreno, Denchita Rivera these are Puerto Ricans and I am gonna go, I am gonna do it, I am gonna make it and you come here and basically there was around, I would say fifty, sixty, a hundred women all running for one part, of a maid. That was one stereotype. The other stereotype was the whore and then I realized, how can I expect a white male to be writing my part? So I said, I wanna write and I wanna have a career. I wanna give other women the opportunity to do my monologues so that I, you know, share the wealth.
Rick: In 1910 is when the Najeras came from Chihuahua to New Mexico. And when I asked my grandfather, “When did you cross the border?” He said, “When I cross the border there wasn’t one.” and there wasn’t. The actual State of New Mexico was a territory. It wasn’t a State so a lot of times we have not seen how we contribute this country and they have not seen our stories really told. Latinos are a huge part of the population yet we are less than 5% are on film in the 20 biggest closing films. We in entertainment almost have a bigger duty to tell our story and tell a human story and a story that uplifts people. Shows like “East Los High” are telling our story and it’s a multifaceted story so if a young high school kid watches this show or younger and looks and sees himself then that gives him idea that he is valued, that he exists, that he is real.
Charo: So that’s what’s happening, we are very grounded in the combination of both cultures and it has taken a while for this to happen and even when we did the reading for season three and I saw all these.