Tanya Saracho (‘Vida’) on Queer and Latinx representation and having ‘skin in the game’ now on TV [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW]

“The first season was like a three hour pilot in a way– now the story really gets going,” explains Tanya Saracho, the creator and showrunner for the Starz series “Vida.” In our exclusive interview (watch the video above), Saracho looks back at the show’s first season and explains how the upcoming second season, which premieres May 23, “redefines what is a family.”

“Vida” tells the story of two estranged sisters (Melissa Barrera and Mishel Prada) forced to work together after the unexpected death of their mother. As they navigate their own complicated relationships, they must also deal with their mother’s failing business and the revelation that she was married to a woman. The show takes place against the backdrop of gentrification and queer politics, something Saracho argues is important in terms of minority audiences seeing themselves represented. “A lot times Latinx, queer characters are sort of the punchline, like comic relief, never fully fleshed out. I think that that’s why we had a good reaction,” adds Saracho.

That good reaction includes an win in the Comedy Series category at this year’s GLAAD Awards, a victory that Saracho claims was a true surprise. “The queer representation we have is often very white and/or male. To be seen, to actually be seen for what we achieved that first season, that was everything,” she says. “We were beaming for days.”

For Saracho, being a queer, Latina showrunner gives her the opportunity to change the way queer and Latinx people are portrayed on television. And Saracho has used her position to that end by hiring queer, Latinx, and female writers, directors and crew members. But even with the changing landscape of television, Saracho remains skeptical of the amount of progress that has been made. Saracho says, “We’ve had like one gain and then three losses. Eleven Latinx-themed project were developed this past broadcast season; not one got on the air.” But Saracho argues that the currently social and political climate makes the show even more necessary: “We have skin in the game.”

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