You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Sofia Vergara, Luis Balaguer and Emiliano Calemzuk Launch Latino Digital Media Startup Raze

Company raises first-round funding from UTA, Greycroft, Raine Ventures

Sofia Vergara, media entrepreneur and star of ABC’s “Modern Family,” together with her longtime business partner Luis Balaguer and Emiliano Calemzuk, former president of Fox Television Studios, have formed Raze: a digital media company dedicated to producing “Latin-centered” content spanning scripted and unscripted formats on multiple platforms.

UTA and entertainment law firm Ziffren Brittenham LLP are founding partners and advisers for the Beverly Hills-based startup. Raze has closed a round of Series A funding from UTA, Greycroft Partners and Raine Ventures. With the investments, Brent Weinstein, partner and head of digital media at UTA, and Greycroft partner Mark Terbeek have joined the board of Raze.

Calemzuk, who is Raze’s CEO, declined to provide the funding amount but said it was in the mid seven figures. Raze, whose website is at raze.tv, plans to launch later this year as a mobile- and video-first destination that will be a hub for news, lifestyle and beauty.

“We realized the best thing to do would create a company for both traditional and digital media, and over time give the audience following all this talent one destination,” said Calemzuk. “We want to turn that connection from just being a sporadic, social-media-driven one to a content-driven one.”

Raze will incorporate Vergara and Balaguer’s Latin World Entertainment, the Hispanic talent management and entertainment-marketing firm they started in 1994. The announcement is timed for the NATPE conference in Miami, where Calemzuk and Balaguer are speaking Thursday.

UTA’s Weinstein noted that the U.S. Hispanic audience is one of the fastest-growing and most important demographic segments for programmers and advertisers. “We jumped at the opportunity to work with Sofia, Luis and Emiliano to build a dynamic new media company to create and deliver premium programming to that key demographic,” he said in a prepared statement.

Terbeek added, “The (Raze) team has a proven ability to create valuable content franchises that resonate with audiences worldwide, and they have developed unparalleled talent relationships in their segment over the last few decades which would be practically impossible to replicate.”

Raze was formed in May 2016 and has already produced its first show: “Su Nombre Era Dolores, la Jenn Que Yo Conocí” (“Her Name was Dolores, the Jenn I Knew”), produced in partnership with BTF and Dhana Media. The scripted series about late Mexican-American superstar Jenni Rivera aired on Univision.

The company has additional TV shows in development, including a scripted series in partnership with soccer star Diego Armando Maradona based on his life, in partnership with Dhana Media and BTF; a young adult hour-long soap based on the hit Wattpad novel “Mi Hermanastro” (“My Stepbrother”), which has over 22 million downloads online; and a series on the life of Latino hip-hop star and actor Don Omar.

“The Hispanic experience in the U.S. is so broad — you can’t define it as one narrow genre,” said Calemzuk, adding that Raze’s content strategy will focus on aspirational storytelling themes like creativity and hard work. “As with anything in the digital space, we want to iterate and double down on things where we find our stride.”

Raze will produce and sell shows to third-party distributors, while it will work with talent to produce content for its own properties as well as for YouTube, Facebook and other social platforms. “If you want to launch a media company for the next 10 years, you have to be everywhere,” Calemzuk said.

Most recently, Calemzuk worked with Time Inc. to develop long-form documentary films and docuseries and also was an adviser to Sky Italia. Before that he was CEO of Elisabeth Murdoch’s Shine Americas, and spent 14 years at News Corp. working in domestic and international TV.

Raze’s owned-and-operated platform will be ad supported, with no plans for a subscription model. According to Balaguer, Raze will be “a great tool for advertisers and products to connect with transforming Latino audiences, and will benefit from the shifting of audiences from traditional platforms to mobile video.”

Pictured above (l. to r.): Luis Balaguer, Sofia VergaraEmiliano Calemzuk

More TV

  • ‘Gentleman Jack’ Gets Season 2 at

    ‘Gentleman Jack’ Renewed for Season 2 at BBC, HBO

    “Gentleman Jack” will return to TV screens on both sides of the Atlantic after the BBC and HBO ordered a second season of the period drama. The series is based on a true story and stars Suranne Jones as Anne Lister, a lesbian, and the proprietor of her family’s coal mines. She has to walk [...]

  • Jane Austin SAG AFTRA

    SAG-AFTRA Secretary-Treasurer Jane Austin Running for President

    Jane Austin, the National Secretary-Treasurer of SAG-AFTRA, has become the third candidate for the presidency of the performers union, joining incumbent Gabrielle Carteris and Matthew Modine. Austin is running as an independent for the top post at SAG-AFTRA, which has 160,000 members. Carteris will seek re-election as the head of the ticket for the Unite [...]

  • Vida

    Why Too Much TV Can Be a Good Thing (Column)

    Three episodes into the second season of “Vida,” there’s a wedding so gloriously and specifically queer that I almost couldn’t believe my eyes. After watching countless couples walk down the aisle onscreen before, Starz’s “Vida” takes care to show a ceremony quite unlike any other, featuring drag queens, a pair of Latinx grooms in bedazzled [...]

  • Emmys: Peak TV Meets Peak FYC

    Emmys: Peak TV Meets Peak FYC With Activations and Experiences

    As the number of Emmy contenders continues to skyrocket in this era of too much choice, “For Your Consideration” events are evolving into full-fledged experiential activations. The traditional Emmy screenings and panel discussions are still around — and have grown to a point that the Television Academy now allows competing events on the same day. [...]


    TV Ratings: ABC's 'Live in Front of a Studio Audience' Easily Tops Wednesday

    The ABC special “Live in Front of a Studio Audience” handily walked away with Wednesday night in the overnight ratings. “Live in Front of a Studio Audience” pulled in a 1.7 rating in adults 18-49 and 10.4 million viewers. For comparison, its closest competition in the demo were the season finales of “Chicago Med” and [...]

  • Star Trek: Picard - Logo ©

    'Star Trek: Picard' Drops First Teaser Trailer, Poster (Watch)

    CBS All Access has released the first look at “Star Trek: Picard,” the new series that will see Sir Patrick Stewart reprise the iconic role of Jean-Luc Picard. Little is known about the plot of the series other than it is said to tell the story of the next chapter of Picard’s life. Stewart played [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content