“Vida” creator and showrunner Tanya Saracho moves offices with every step of the production process in order to be as close to the action as possible. With each move, from the writers’ office to CBS-Radford during filming, to the post house, she brings all the same furniture and personal items with her to create a space that reflects her personality and sense of warmth. While the size of her space has differed greatly with each stop, she has kept her desk and a few key accessories the focal point.
What a Doll
On the console just across from Saracho’s desk sits a doll of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, given to her by former Starz executive Marta Fernandez, whom she credits with “championing” her show. Although Saracho admits she doesn’t keep a lot of collectibles around, this one is an exception because of her bond with Fernandez. “If a person with a last name like that had not been there, we would not be here,” she says. “I feel like I have a sister [or] a partner in this, and usually you don’t make friends like that.”
Selena por vida
Candles are one of the most important aspects of daily life for Saracho, who keeps a cylinder pillar adorned with an image of singer-songwriter Selena Quintanilla-Pérez on her desk. “She’s our patron saint,” Saracho says. Saracho grew up in Texas and recalls when, before the late artist became a sensation, she would perform at state fairs and Saracho’s own high school. “There’s a link, but now she’s become bigger than that.”
Fun and Games
When her writers’ room needs to unwind, Saracho breaks out Loteria (Mexican bingo). “It’s a really cool game because you can play it with family or you can play it drinking with friends,” she says. “And it’s kind of like Selena: It’s part of the zeitgeist.” Her current favorite version is Millennial Loteria, which designs cards featuring traditional “early 20th-century Mexican imagery” and more modern phrases, such as “selfie” and “hashtag.”
Amanda Ramirez, a key member of the “Vida” wardrobe department, is also an embroidery artist who gifted Saracho with a special wall hanging that she keeps on the wall directly next to the door to her office so it is the first thing one sees upon entering. “She makes so many,” Saracho says. She notes this particular one was done during the first season of the show, but since then Ramirez has made, and shared with the cast and crew, special designs depicting “Vida’s” Mariachi Plaza, as well as buttons that say “Pussy Power” or “Vida” or other Latina-positive messages.
An Emotional Offering
Saracho keeps smudge sticks in the corner of her office. Self-described as “superstitious and very connected to spirits,” Saracho asks a bruja to bless every new space she enters before she starts working there. When she brought her into her current office, Saracho recalls, the woman stopped in that corner and stared up at the top of the doorframe. “Her eyes started watering, and then I got a chill, and she was like, ‘I’m getting chills, too,’” she says. The bruja told Saracho there was a really tall Mayan woman standing there who “likes you; she’s going to follow you; she’s going to help you write this,” she says. Because the bruja also said this woman likes “smoking things [and] sage,” Saracho invites her in with those smudge sticks.