Good afternoon, YouthMundees! At YouthMundus, we aim to not only be a platform for music, film and global change, but for the artists and global changemakers who create them. Our Artist Spotlight series aims to create a space for discovery of new, budding global talent, while simultaneously offering you an exclusive glimpse into their creative process.
After witnessing and experiencing racial discrimination and civil unrest, Paula Leon-Gambetta felt the need to make a difference. A trained singer, dancer, and actor, Paula founded Mi Voz Media, a media space dedicated to elevating BIPOC creatives.
You’ve written that you attribute the finding of Mi Voce Y La Tuya to your growing awareness of racial oppression and violence in 2020. What you were thinking during those times, and how this lead to the founding of your company?
Sure! Well, I'm a foreigner here in the U.S., and because of this, I feel extra pressure to be very careful in my actions. I felt that I might jeopardize my visa by attending protests like many of my American peers were, although I very much wished I could do so. However, I knew I could show my support in other ways. Besides checking in and conversing with my friends who were especially effected by the civil unrest, I created Mi Voz Media, an online space dedicated to BIPOC narratives. Mi Voz Media is a place where any BIPOC person is welcome to say the things they feel need to be said. It is a place where people can have the meaningful, raw conversations that are often left unexplored, and share it with a global audience. Finally, the space grants people the freedom to write what they want and speak their truth.
How does Mi Voz Media aim to make a difference? What is special about the stories the platform uplifts?
Mi Voz Media is made up entirely of a team of BIPOC people, all of whom also identify as non-heterosexual. The diverse backgrounds of our team members help us in authentically sharing stories from a wide range of perspectives. In this way we differ from many of the larger, more mainstream media platforms, where you tend to only see the "buzz-worthy" stories that, in my opinion, fail to equitably represent minorities. To give you an idea of the kinds of stories we publish, we recently reported on the contributions of the Navajo Nation in the American election. '
What needs to change so that more BIPOC voices are heard?
We need to invest in companies that value BIPOC voices (like Mi Voz Media!). It’s important that these people are not only visible in the content we produce, but are active in all aspects of the company: as part of the lighting, make-up, wardrobe, marketing, and branding teams. There is a deficit in the number of BIPOC people in positions of power, which is where some of the most influential decisions regarding content creation and promotion are made.
How has the visibility of BIPOC artists changed during the pandemic?
There has definitely been an increase in awareness and effort towards elevating the visibility of BIPOC artists. The interplay between media sources and the community plays a large part in this movement. I've noticed more power and advocacy stemming from social media than ever before. After seeing the unrest that’s ensued over the past year, and in many cases losing their jobs too, people are willing to speak out against racism and discrimination. They are tired of keeping quiet and without jobs, are less inclined to “stay quiet.” I think more BIPOC are realizing they don't have to conform to societal expectations, and that social media is way to garner community support and advocate for change. But despite the work that has been done, we've barely even scratched the surface.
Are there actions we, as readers, can take today to make a positive impact?
Dedicate yourself to actively consuming BIPOC-made films, television, and literature. Do the work, there is so much out there! Maybe go watch Pose, or Superstore or Nora from Queens, Sex Education, or Insecure. The options are endless, spanning numerous themes and genres that might surprise you. If you have younger children, have them watch shows that feature characters and narratives of different backgrounds- That's So Raven, The Proud Family and Mr. Iglesias are some of my personal favorites.
What does the future of Mi Voz Media look like?
Oh, it's always changing. I want it to be big, like the Buzzfeed or Teen Vogue of 20-year-olds of color. I hope that Mi Voz Media becomes a place where our readers see themselves and their stories on the page. But also a chill place where they can find emerging BIPOC artists, learn new recipes, and more. We're going to be adding much more content over the next year, such as interviews, artist features, and video content.
Any upcoming projects, events we should look out for?
Check out our website MiVozMedia.com and follow our IG @MiVozMedia. We're always looking for more voices, and you can find new opportunities posted there. Besides that, I do stand-up comedy in collaboration with Women Stand Up, so be on the lookout for any new stuff I do via Instagram, both on @women.stand.up and my personal IG account, @paulita_chatita. Also, If you have 7 minutes to spare and wish to have a laugh, please check out my comedic short film "She Knows Her Place."
Thank you all so much for your continued support. We look forward to bringing you the voice of more inspiring artists and changemakers in 2021.