June 18, 2021

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LatinXcellence: This TV producer is done with the tropes of the drug dealer and the gangerbanger

Growing up in Portland, Oregon, Calderón Kellett would come home from school and watch “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” while his grandmother sewed draperies or cooked dinner for their family. Cuban-American very united. Fascinated by broadcasts, Calderón Kellett said she began to dream of working on television.

Years before becoming a producer and showrunner for the much-loved “One Day at a Time” reboot, Calderón Kellett became an actress. But while auditioning, she found herself reading stereotypical Latino roles as the girlfriend of a gangbanger or the sister of a gangbanger.

“It has become so frustrating for me that there is no school teacher, no social worker… nothing, nada,” Calderón Kellett said. “Hollywood had such a myopic view of who and what we are.”

It was then that Calderón Kellett realized that in order to make an impact in the industry, she would have to learn to write for television and eventually create the authentic stories she wanted to see on screen.

“I started to devote all my time and energy to reading. I would go to the Museum of Television & Radio, now the Paley Center. I studied, I broke down scripts, I read every book I could. I was reading all these writers and directors talking about the television and film business, ”she said.

She started writing and directing plays and went on to work on several shows including “How I Met Your Mother”, “Rules of Engagement”, “Devious Maids” and “iZombie”.

More than a decade after those first auditions, her family story became central to the sitcom reboot Norman Lear which ran from 1975 to 1984. The critically acclaimed series debuted in 2017 on Netflix, where it lasted for three seasons before Pop TV picked it up for its fourth and final season.

The series has changed her life and put her in the spotlight, Calderón Kellett said, but, she added, she feels far from having reached her artistic peak as a showrunner and wants to do more to do advancing Latinx representation in entertainment.

“I want there to be a better understanding of who we (Latinos) are by people who don’t know any of us and I want us to rise up,” she said.

Gloria Calderón Kellett focused her work on shaping the stories told on screen and improving the understanding of Latinos.

Questions and answers

Last name: Gloria Calderon Kellett

Employment: Showrunner and producer. Currently, she is developing TV series and films for Amazon Studios through her company GloNation.

Projects you have worked on: “One Day at a Time”, “Rules of Engagement”, “Devious Maids” and “iZombie”.

Years in Entertainment: 20

Mentor: “I’ve had so many supportive people like Pam Fryman. She’s been a very close friend and ally. Knowing that someone like her has been doing this job for a very long time and doing it with kindness and love, and being able to have a normal life was really important to me, Norman Lear and Mike Royce, they changed my life with “One Day at a Time”.

Latina … from dónde ?: “I am a first generation Cuban American child. Both of my parents arrived in 1962. I grew up in a very beautiful Cuban community in the middle of Portland, Oregon.”

Trope that I would banish from TV forever: “I’m a little done with the gangbangers and drug dealers, I just saw it a lot. Are there Latino gang members and drug dealers? Yes there are. C ‘ is right when that’s all you see, it’s just crazy. I just need other things to exist. For me, it’s about adding more so that you can see that there is a huge mix of experiences Latino Americans have — all of this should be explored. ”

Latinx actor / actress, I think he will one day be a big star: “Emeraude Toubia who is Mexicana (and) an amazing young lady, and Rome Flynn who is Afro-Cuban. These are the new latino stars of my new show (‘With Love’) and I think they’re going to be big, big stars. ”

Latinx show I wish everyone had watched: “Love Rutherford Falls. My friend Sierra Teller Ornelas is the showrunner. She is Mexicana and Native Navajo. It’s so based on her, her love for her community and it’s so funny. It was the last thing I looked at and it brought me so much joy. ”

Overused line execs say when passing a Latino for a project: “They didn’t turn down Latinos for (my) projects, but I passed pilots to people. We heard ‘we’re worried this is a little too specialized” and I don’t agree. . about “One Day at a Time.” I had to talk about so many things specific to my Latin American experience and people from so many other communities said, “I’m not Cuban but my mom has did that “or” I saw my family in your family. “Because we were so specific, it made history universal.”

What I think all showrunners could do to help increase representation of Latinx on TV: “The most important thing is nothing about us without us. If you want to make one of our stories an integral part of your show or use it as a way to get noticed, because it’s a time when people understand portrayal is important, have one of us been involved in creating that show, so you do the portrayal work behind the camera as well as in front of the camera. I think that it makes a big difference. You can tell when you watch it whether it’s being honest or not. ”

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