Every detail from the live mariachi band to the fresh esquites and pupusas served at the Los Angeles premiere of “Gentefied” at Los Angeles’ Plaza de la Raza on Thursday night reflected the Netflix series’ aim at authentically representing the culture of the Latinx community in today’s modern age. Exec producer America Ferrera has been in the business for nearly two decades and reflected on her experience as a Latinx actor in the industry and the shift she’s witnessed in Hollywood over her career.
“I feel like for most of my career I felt so alone and so isolated from other Latinos in this industry,” Ferrera told Variety. “But now, today, I get to work with incredibly talented Latinos and bring to life a story that is so close to our hearts at a time when other creators that we love, admire and respect so much are getting to do the same. It’s history.”
Ferrera — who also directed and is a guest star in the series — has long been a leader in the push for more diversity and representation in the industry, so when President Trump made a controversial statement at a Colorado rally on Thursday, questioning why South Korean film “Parasite” won the Oscar for best picture since it’s a foreign-language film, the actor told Variety, “There’s nothing surprising to me about that. I have nothing to say to that other than ‘You’re (Trump) unsurprising to me at this point.'”
“I think Trump wouldn’t know a good movie if it hit him in the f—ing face,” said Lemus. “That’s what I’ll say. And ‘Parasite’ was the best picture that I have seen in a long time.”
“The best picture should be the best picture, the best movie that was made that year that represented the best of cinema, period,” King concurred. “As a member of the Academy, I can tell you I was so happy and excited that film won those four awards. I think those comments reflect an old establishment mentality.”
By highlighting inclusion and representation, “Gentefied” somewhat exemplifies this new era of Hollywood that is striving to create space for people of color. Lemus, along with co-creator Linda Yvette Chávez, shared his experience on being a part of this new wave of Latinx storytelling alongside shows like “Vida,” “Party of Five” and “One Day at a Time.”
“I grew up with a single mother and TV was the babysitter,” said Lemus. “Having my mom tell me ‘You’re going to chase that American Dream,’ but, every time I watched TV, all I saw were people who looked like me as the butt of the joke. So it feels incredibly fulfilling and it’s an honor to contribute to this wave of stories that are coming out that are going to help little brown boys and girls, queer kids and any child of immigrants feel like they belong right here.”
“’Gentefied’ brings such a unique, special perspective to that tapestry of narratives,” said Chávez. “For us to come in and get to tell a story that’s about our community that is so fully bilingual that really lives in a world that is so authentic is incredible.”
The series, which follows a Mexican-American family living in Boyle Heights each chasing their own version of the American Dream, explores themes of gentrification, queer identity and love. But at the root of it all, it is a story about family. “It’s definitely a roller coaster,” said Karrie Martin, who plays queer character Ana Morales. “You’re going to laugh, you’re going to cry, you’re going to see yourself and you’re going to question yourself.”
“This show is such a big win, not just for me, but for the Latinidad,” Annie Gonzalez (who plays Lidia) added. “This empowers other people of our community to finally see themselves in a space where they feel represented and elevated.”
Following the red carpet, the “Gentefied” team — including series stars J.J Soria, Carlos Santos and Julissa Calderon — partied late into the evening, celebrating with a late-night countdown in the final moments before the premiere of “Gentefied” was released on Netflix at midnight.