Starz’s ‘Vida’ Explores Gentrification of Latino Neighborhoods… by Other Latinos

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Starz’s upcoming drama “Vida” shares stories of Latinos in Los Angeles, told by the Latinos — whose stories might not be familiar to a broader audience.

One issue the half-hour drama will tackle in its first season, showrunner Tanya Saracho said, is “gentefication,” the gentrification of Latinp neighborhoods by other Latinos.

A play on the Spanish word gente (which translates to “people,”) gentefication is a term used to describe the changes brought to a community when young, upwardly mobile Latinos move back to their old neighborhoods and displace less wealthy residents. Some of those Latinos are known as “Chipsters” — Chicano hipsters.

“When you open up that can of worms of us gentrifying our own, there’s a lot of story there,” Saracho told reporters at a Television Critics Association panel on Friday.

The series stars Mishel Prada and Melissa Barrera as two Mexican-American sisters from the Eastside of Los Angeles who return to their old neighborhood, where they are confronted by the past and a surprising truth about their mother’s identity.

Saracho promised that the series will be faithful to the experience of the Latino community and to the Eastside in particular. From casting L.A. natives, to the all-Latinx writers’ room, to even the show’s costume designer, Saracho said she had the full support of Starz to do her show “the right way.”

Even with that specificity, Saracho said the show’s themes will ring true to all viewers.

“Gentrification is happening everywhere,” she said, noting that cities across the country and even oversees are facing the same problems. She noted Brazil, in particular, as a place where people are being pushed out of their own neighborhoods

But still, the show’s first priority will always be to “deal with what’s happening on the Eastside,” Saracho said.

“I truly believe that ‘Vida’ will change the cultural landscape of Los Angeles,” said star and activist Ser Anzoategui.

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