LatinXcellence: Kase Peña is making a legacy of authenticity

“I was born in Manhattan. My parents are from the Dominican Republic. I lived the first nine years of my life in Manhattan, but I lived in a place called Inwood. I don’t know if you know New York, but Inwood is at northern tip of Manhattan. It narrows. The island of Manhattan is really narrow,” she stated, not breathing. “So, there’s a bridge — well, two bridges — that connect you to the Bronx. Actually, there’s three bridges. And I lived in this area where two blocks from me, there was the river. And I would look across the river, the Bronx was there.”

Her daddy, she states, had an alcohol shop in the South Bronx, where they’d check out every day after school. It was so near to Yankee arena that you might hear the holler of the crowd on video game days.

“My connection to the Bronx is very, very deep. We eventually moved there, but I’m not technically from the Bronx.”

This location lesson is not unlike whatever Peña makes as a filmmaker: the storytelling power remains in the transmittable energy she takes into it and her laser-sharp uniqueness. Her brief movie “Full Beat,” for instance, is a moving piece about a trans teenager who discovers an ally in a most not likely location when she requires one one of the most.

Peña keen eye and particular tone are a progressively hot product in a market clamoring for unique voices.

She is, nevertheless, dedicated to doing things her own method — a spirit that has actually served her well given that the days she’d offer illustrations on the play area for a dollar a piece.

For her most current work — an anthology function entitled “Trans Los Angeles” — she took matters into her own hands. Through fundraising and grants, she’s chosen together $150,000 to make part of task a truth. This followed years of striking obstruction after obstruction in the market.

“I didn’t dare to ask Hollywood for money when I graduated from film school, because I’m a logical person,” the City College of New york city alum stated. “I didn’t dare to do that until I went to film school for four years, then I worked for like seven, eight years on my craft.”

The market, Peña said, supports “members of the dominant culture” while they’re still in movie school, while movie trainees who are individuals of color need to await years for their time to get here.

And even then, often, doors never ever open.

“There was another ‘no’ that I got in late 2018 where I just got fed up and I was like, ‘I’m going to prove to you guys who I am as a writer-director and that I’m more of a writer-director than these other writer-directors they think are so important to celebrate. Watch what I’m going to do.'”

And she’s doing it. She’s had the ability to finish 2 of 4 parts and is wanting to raise $350,000 to finish the last 2 installations of “Trans Los Angeles.”

Carmen Carrera, Stephanie Beatriz of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” popularity and YaYa Gosselin star in one installation about a Latinx trans lady. Other installations inform stories about a 10-year-old Black trans lady whose papa is a gang member, another about a White trans guy and another that’s all in Spanish about a trans lady from El Salvador who is looking for asylum.

Whether the task is commemorated with distinctions or not, Peña is empowered by the reality that she’s taken control of a story that frequently has actually run out the trans or Latinx neighborhood’s hands, both of which she belongs.

Every year, when trans or Latinx stories not made by members of those neighborhoods are commemorated, it is “painful,” she stated, since it indicates a host of lost chances for individuals from those marginalized neighborhoods.

“Notice all those White filmmakers who told those stories about Latinx people, notice how they never came back to our communities to tell another one of our stories. It’s because they moved on,” she stated. “They blew up and now they’re doing their stuff. Me — or any one of us — we will come back because this our community. I tell people, I don’t care if I direct a movie with a $100 million budget tomorrow, I will always come back to tell the story of my community. This is how I started, and I care about the stories.”

For Peña, it is likewise about more than simply a minute. It has to do with taking control of the story now for future generations.

“What about when Latinx people from a hundred years from now and transgender people from a hundred years from now go back in time and watch movies? Everything they’re going to watch is written and directed by somebody’s who’s not us,” she stated. “How is that a good thing?”

One advantage? That individuals from a a century from now will understand Kase Peña.

Kase Peña is a filmmaker and writer. "I tell people, I don't care if I direct a movie with a $100 million budget tomorrow, I will always come back to tell the story of my community. This is how I started, and I care about the stories."


Name: Kase Peña

Job: Writer/director

My work consists of: brief movies “Full Beat” (offered on HBO Max) and “Trabajo” and anthology function “Trans Los Angeles.”

Years in home entertainment: 20

Latina…de dónde?: Very first generation American, child of immigrants from the Dominican Republic, born and raised in Manhattan and the Bronx.

Latinx trope I’d eradicate permanently: “When Latinx people are portrayed as having an accent for laughs. There’s nothing wrong with having an accent. Many people in this country and the whole world have accents. It’s not something to be laughed at. On TV, that’s the norm. So if you have an accent, you’re never taken seriously. There are people who have accents who have doctorate degrees from their country. Also, something someone told me years ago was, ‘You know what they say about people with accents? They speak multiple languages.’ How are you going to laugh at somebody who speaks multiple languages?”

Latinx actor/actress I believe will a substantial star one day: “Carmen Carrera, who just starred in my film ‘Trans Los Angeles.’ She’s been trying to act for many years and Hollywood has told her that she can’t do it. She just played the lead in my film and everybody is raving about her performance.”

Tired line that executives state when handing down a Latinx task: “‘We already have a Latinx show,’ which is the same people transgender people hear. ‘Oh, we already did a transgender show.'”

What I believe all filmmakers might do to assist increase Latinx representation: “Put us in the center of your story. We don’t always have to be in the background. We don’t always have to be a stereotype. They know the stereotypes because they’re the ones who write them.”

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.