Being a multi-hyphenate is a way of life in NYC. The question,”what do you do?” has evolved into an extensive conversation about your aspirations, your latest albums, your social media following and how you’re the one that will change it all. One could say that long time Remezcla friend Mike Diaz (aka Juan Bago) embodies the multi-hyphenate, as an actor-producer-writer-activist and community board member in Washington Heights and Inwood.
After his video Pan Con Queso went viral a few years ago (a spoof of Wiz Khalifa’s Black & Yellow), Juan Bago and his partner in crime O released follow-up spoofs, securing them a following as Uptown comedians to wtch. Now, Remezcla has partnered with Bago & friends to host his newest endeavor- an original web series blurring the lines of reality television, entitled “Studio Heads.”
ABOUT THE SERIES
Shot in a mockumentary style reminiscent of The Office, Studio Heads follows Bago as he attempts to launch a production studio with friends Jaime (an aspiring r&b singer) and Ant (an aspiring “important acting award winning actor”).
As we’ve seen in other recent comedies (Girls and Broad City come to mind), the actors play exaggerated, comic versions of themselves, blurring the lines between reality and fiction.“The comedy of the show is fast-paced and the jokes keep coming at you. So expect plenty of silly humor,” said writer Jaime Fernandez.
Taking place in Washington Heights, the comedy not only features a roster of Uptown NYC’s rising comedic talent, it also includes a cameo by one of the Heights’ most recognizable names: Tony award-winning actor and composer Lin-Manuel Miranda, whose involvement in the project came about because “I do whatever Michael Diaz (Juan Bago) says. I love his videos, and I love when he asks me to play with him and his crew.”
While the cast is nearly all Latino and they rep Uptown hard, according to Diaz that doesn’t change anything about the story. “We’re Latinos — but this is comedy that everyone can relate to,” he said, emphasizing that these characters are defined more than anything by their hustle, antics and struggles to make it, which can be relatable to anyone. “I want to show that you can have comedy coming out of Washington Heights, but it can be mainstream.”
Lin-Manuel Miranda echoed this sentiment, and when asked about his hopes for the Northern Manhattan creative community, he told us: “Well, we all live here already. So my hope is really rather selfish: rather than all of us trekking downtown every time something cool is happening, why don’t we create more of those cool moments uptown and not have to cry if the A is going local, or spend our rent check on a cab ride home? If people from downtown come join us and spend some money on some local businesses while they’re up here, everyone wins. I love when I get to see someone like Lemon Andersen at Apt. 78, or see great Shakespeare in Ft. Tryon Park in the summer. Because I don’t like going too far from my house. And because a healthy arts community is the sign of a healthy community, punto.”
As we’ve continually seen, although Latinos are the fastest growing demographic in the U.S., we are often under- or mis-represented on major TV networks. Refreshingly, new shows like Looking on HBO are gaining support for their depictions of Latino characters who are not “stereotypical,” but living a bicultural American lifestyle while still being proud of their heritage . But is one major show enough?
In 2012, we featured a guest post by Julia Ahumada Grob and Jazmin Chavez of the webseries East WillyB, in which they called us to turn off the T.V. and support the independent web series that are representing the multi-faceted Latino experience by those who are living it. In this vein, by hosting Studio Heads, Remezcla is taking a step to provide a platform to share the great original Latino talent and content that hasn’t yet found a home in mainstream media, but deserves to be seen. We hope this will be the first of many to come!