Here’s What Happens When Two Latinos Who Sparked a National Conversation on Diversity in Media Meet

Illustration: Julio Salgado

It was only a few months ago that Dylan Marron edited his first “Every Word Spoken” video and posted it to YouTube. He had no idea the response would be so far-reaching. It seemed like a simple idea. Dylan took a movie he liked, Enough Said, and edited out all the white actors to show that the lines spoken by people of color added up to mere seconds. Since then, he’s racked up tens of thousands of views on videos from “Every Word Spoken by a Person of Color in Gone With The Wind” to “Every Word Spoken by a Person of Color in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.”

Dylan fielded interview requests from every outlet imaginable and found himself in the middle of a media identity crisis. The news outlets covering the lack of representation of people of color on television and film are often linked (via parent organizations) to the very networks and movie studios that are at fault for the cult of whiteness we see in movies and on television. Separate from mainstream media, and captured in hashtags like #OscarsSoWhite, there’s a group of people – bloggers, artists, and activists – who are pushing us to have a deeper conversation about the disparity.

On the other side of the country in the Bay Area, Julio Salgado tackled the lack of minorities on television with a different approach. He took popular sitcoms and imagined what they would be like with casts comprised exclusively of people of color, completely replacing the white actors. The resulting illustrations went up on his Facebook page and, not surprisingly, had a similar response. The photos, shared thousands of times, motivated several media outlets to reach out to Salgado.

That got us thinking: instead of focusing on their works as two separate projects, what if we thought of them as being in conversation with each other? So we did just that. Below is the result of a hilarious, enlightening, and much-needed conversation between two gay men of color about growing up seeing only white (and mostly straight) faces on TV and in movies.

Julio Salgado
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Julio Salgado: I was born in Ensenada, Mexico, right across the border. I grew up with TV. You know, growing up in Mexico, I was really drawn to sketch comedy, like El Chavo del Ocho, Chespirito, and other shows. I felt like sketch comedy was something that made it fun for a chubby little gay boy who was sad a lot of the time, and laughing was a good release, being that it was on TV.

I came to the States when I was 11 years old. I was about to go into my teenage years. I really didn’t want to live here; I didn’t speak the language, and so it was really hard for me to communicate with other kids. But I think that TV all of a sudden became a really important tool for me to learn English, and to be able to communicate.

Dylan you were born here?

Dylan Marron: I was born in Caracas, Venezuela. My mom is white and my dad is Venezuelan. I moved to New York when I was five, and I was always raised and lived in mostly white communities. When we came to New York I went to public school for elementary school and then private school for middle and high school, and that is a very, very white environment. Especially being biracial, in a lot of ways you feel like you don’t actually fit anywhere. You aren’t Latino enough to be Latino, you aren’t white enough to be white, so you kind of feel like you’re trafficking in this very liminal space.

Dylan Marron
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Julio, it’s interesting that you were talking about sketch comedy, because that’s totally what I was drawn to, too. I was drawn to Saturday Night Live and Mad TV. Even if they were trafficking in stereotypes, there was a really profound satire that was being made of culture at large, which I think one can really understand as an outsider. I think satire is an outsider art, and satire can only truly be made by an outsider who has the ability to observe a culture. And that’s always how I felt, and in addition to that, being queer.

Growing up, pop culture, movies, and television shows – that was like my scripture. That is what I clung to. Those were the stories that I engaged in. And I’m not just talking about the stories themselves, in the television shows and the movies, but also celebrity culture. I didn’t know this at the time, but it was escapist for me. And I wanted to project myself into those lives. In a lot of the ways Manuel Puig and Pedro Almodóvar write and document celebrity culture, I think it was very similar for me, it’s just you don’t actually notice that when you’re younger.

Julio: I know it’s a cliché, a gay boy growing up obsessed with celebrity culture, but I think that’s all about the characters. The same thing can be said about books. Like you read books to escape your life and travel the world, but it’s just much easier. And I’m a visual person, and it was just about the visuals and seeing other things that you’re not supposed to be part of. That was really interesting.

“Sketch comedy was something that was fun for a chubby little gay boy who was sad a lot of the time.”

Dylan: I mean, I was a visual person too. And so, yeah I enjoyed books, but to see something, to see the image of something I wanted to be, to see the image of a body that I wanted to escape into – I think Manuel Puig writes about Marilyn Monroe and he writes about Rita Hayworth, and Almodóvar always has these women that are aging film stars, and I think what attracted me to that, and maybe it was similar for you, was like…this was another ideal that you could just intuit. You just knew that this was a projection of a human that you were like, “Oh, yeah, that’s what it could be like.” And it was so other, because we were so other.

So for you what were your favorite television shows and movies growing up, what were those stories that you really loved?

“My version of Friends is set in Oakland. They are mostly college students of color that met at a multicultural center. You’ll see them at protests and rolling deep at First Fridays rolling their eyes at white people taking up too much space.” -Julio Salgado
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Julio: When I moved here, one of the first shows that I watched religiously was The Simpsons. Even now in my art, the drawings that I make are very cartoony-style and the colors are super bright, and that was very much inspired by The Simpsons. And I don’t know what it was about The Simpsons… maybe because [with] the drawings that I was [already] making it was like, “Oh you should make The Simpsons people of color.” And I was like, “They never said The Simpsons are white!” I don’t remember an episode where they were like, “Oh, we’re white.”

But, it was so relatable in terms of the dad being so clumsy and the relationship between siblings. I learned English through them. I would try to have conversations with my classmates about The Simpsons and I would start practicing my English.

How about you?

“My version of Gilmore Girls is based on my mom and sister. When we first moved to the U.S. and my sister became really ill, my mom gave her one of her kidneys. That’s a bond that they will cherish for their rest of their lives.” -Julio Salgado
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“Being biracial, you feel like you don’t fit anywhere. You aren’t Latino enough to be Latino, you aren’t white enough to be white, so you kind of feel like you’re trafficking in this very liminal space.”

Dylan: I started watching MacGyver when I was really young because that was one of the American television shows that was syndicated in Venezuela. I think I loved it so much because I had a huge crush on MacGyver. Oh my god, he’s so hot. So MacGyver. I was so obsessed. You know that Roald Dahl book The Witches? And then the movie that was made with Angelica Huston. It was Angelica Huston in her dress and then transforming into the head witch. There was something chemically in my body that I could not stop watching that movie, in a truly obsessive way that should probably be monitored by someone. But I couldn’t get enough of that movie. If you think about it it’s like, if you take a step back you can kind of see why, but it’s about a group of women who have to uphold a certain front and then get to reveal what’s underneath. And that’s exactly what we’re talking about here.

What I was going to say with MacGyver is that right from an early age, the kind of heartthrobs, the hunks that I was being exposed to, were all these white blond guys. So that’s what’s held up to be the ideal. That is the paradigm of masculinity. So this is how in your mind you start normalizing and you start creating ideals for yourself, beauty ideals. It’s like, “This is what is beautiful, this is what isn’t.” Especially then moving back to America and really consuming white American pop culture as I did, because that’s what was offered to me – I think that’s how you start forming attraction, based on what is offered to you from a young age.

Julio: And you see this in the gay world, even when a show like Will & Grace came out. By the time Will & Grace came out I was in the 10th grade, 11th grade. It was like, “Oh my god, there’s a gay man on TV that is a lawyer and this thing that we’re supposed to be.” Later in the season, he had a husband or somebody who was his partner, who was a Cuban actor. I think he’s Cuban…

Dylan: Who was it? Oh I know who you’re talking about. Bobby [Cannavale].

“From an early age, the kind of heartthrobs, the hunks I was exposed to, were all these white blond guys. So that is what’s held up to be the ideal.”

Julio: Is he Latino?

I think he is.

Julio: But he played an Italian. Maybe I’m wrong on this, but I think he’s Latino. And that is reflected in gay culture. Because you have this app, this hook up app, with no fats, no femmes, no blacks. It’s this thing where you’re supposed to love this white male figure, and that’s what you’re supposed to aspire to. And even like the bad gay comedies that are on Netflix, the majority are just white guys that I’m just like, “Really?”

Dylan: Oh yeah, white dudes.

Julio: Yeah, and they’re so bad though. I’m kind of happy that we’re not in them, because the movies are so bad. But that shows the culture that we inherited because of all the things that we see.

Dylan: So if we take the conversation out of just the impact on gay culture – the no fats, no femmes, no people of color – the thing is that society has taught us (or rather pop culture has been a strong agent in this) – it has taught us to hate women, to hate poor people, and to hate anyone that doesn’t fit into that paradigm, and when you translate that into the gay male world that’s what you’re getting. There is an opulence that is shown in gay culture; there is a certain body type; there is a certain form of masculinity that is taught to be desirable, and you’re totally right, even the gay comedies that we find in some sort of bargain bin at a video store that somehow still exist in the age of Netflix, it’s all the same guys.

“Jordan and Angela are two young Muslim teenagers who must deal with love and Islamophobia in the U.S. Wilson Cruz comes back as Rickie.” -Julio Salgado
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“What language are you using to combat misogyny, anti-blackness, and all these things that we really don’t like to talk about, both in gay culture, Latino culture, and cultures where these things are so ingrained in us?”

Julio: Yeah and it’s really important, it’s like how do we – and this is something that I try to push in the art I make, the comic strips that I make – It’s a commentary on the way that gay men are constantly being hella misogynist. There was this awful thing with Azealia Banks, where gay men really attacked her for the word “fag,” but gay men talk about women’s bodies and and black women specifically so bad that I’m like, really we need to check ourselves before we try to block people for being homophobic. But it’s like: what language are you using to combat misogyny, anti-blackness, and all these things that we really don’t like to talk about, both in gay culture, Latino culture, and cultures where these things are so ingrained in us?

Was there a movie or TV character that you related to growing up?

Dylan: It was Ricky in My So-Called Life. And I saw that in your drawing of My So-Called Life where Wilson Cruz comes back, and I love that because that was all we were given. We were given the option of like, “Oh are you rich?” Well just take white women on that show, it’s like “Are you Angela? Or are you Ray Anne? Or are you the mother? Or are you the old friend?” It’s like there was this treasure trove of options that white people have to identify with. Like are you Jordan Catalano or are you the goofy cute next door neighbor? And we’re like, “No, we’re Ricky,” and that’s our in. And that’s great because Wilson Cruz is amazing, and Ricky was a great character, but we need Ricky and so many more people. To have a hunky guy is fine, but we need to have so much more than just that.

But what about you, was there a character that you found an in with?

“This Roseanne is made up of a Mexican family living in Huntington Park.” -Julio Salgado
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Julio: I really love Roseanne. I started watching the reruns of Roseanne because when it first came out, I wasn’t in the States. So I started watching the reruns. And I don’t know, there was something about Roseanne. I’m a big dude, I’m loud, so I just think Roseanne was just like, she was just down, and there was that show that just got cancelled, Cristela. It was an ABC [show]. It just had one season last year. And it had that resemblance that it was a Latina family that was struggling, trying to pursue their dreams, and I said, “Damn, I wish there was a show that was like this for us.”

“The comics that I make aren’t to trash all these shows, it’s that these shows were really part of our lives, but there was something missing.”

So Roseanne was definitely a character that I related to a lot. I think that [Cristela] could have been our Roseanne. Like Cristela was about this young Mexican-American woman who was trying to be a lawyer, and real-world struggling, she was living at home and dealing with her family. You know, older folks having to stay at home to help out their families. That happens to us all the time, but you didn’t see that a lot. But what I saw in Roseanne was that family struggle to make ends meet. And I really liked it because I saw my mom in her a lot.

The reason why Roseanne was so popular and it hit the hearts of many people was because it showed this realistic – first of all, it showed realistic people, people who look like us in a sense. White, but you know, there was a big person. And I think that in itself, there were little [wins], like in Will & Grace. And I think what all that did – it really inspired a lot of us to want to pursue art, to tell these other stories. And again, the comics that I make aren’t to trash all these shows; it’s about these shows that were really part of our lives, but there was something missing. There was something missing, but I’m glad that we’re making art, that we’re making projects like this.

Do you remember that moment that you decided to make that first Every Single Word Spoken video? That you were like, “Oh my God, I need to do this.”

Dylan: Yeah, I worked with a theater company and we write and perform a lot of short form plays. And the first time I ever did it, it was because I saw that movie Enough Said on an airplane. Do you know Enough Said? It’s the one with Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Gandolfini; it was like their rom-com. I watched it on a plane. You bring something up that I really like – it’s like, you don’t hate these television shows. Quite the contrary, you love these television shows; you’re just acknowledging something, and I’ve always said the same thing about Every Single Word.

“I didn’t know that it was going to make the impact that it made. I just thought that I was going to be expressing this thing that I had come to realize, and I was coming to realize as an actor.”

But you know it’s hard, because I was watching Enough Said and I was thinking like, “Wow, this is a really great movie.” It’s like showing aging adults dating, and it’s kind of honing in on how difficult that is when you are no longer told that you’re like a viable romantic person. Great. I love that; I’m fully behind it. The only person of color who speaks in that entire movie is a maid, and her subplot, her story, is that she is a bad maid. And it’s not like you get to hear her side; it’s not like she gets to become this fully-rounded character. It’s that that is the subplot and at the end she quits. And that’s it. Her arc is: bad maid who doesn’t put things where they should be and she quits. And it’s like, oh my God, whoever wrote this, whoever was the mind behind it, has clearly never interacted with a person of color outside of these roles. It’s the service role.

So I performed that as a short piece, as it was called the night I performed it, it was “Every Single Word Spoken by a Person of Color As Performed by the Only Person of Color on this Stage.” And I just performed all of her lines and it took 40 seconds. And then I guess a year and some change later I wanted to kind of share that in a bigger way, and I was like, “Well, I don’t think it’s going to reach people as much if I performed these words. I think what instead I’ll do is that I will actually just edit these films down to just the words spoken by people of color.” So I started doing it with Enough Said, and I didn’t know at all that it was going to make the impact that it made. I just thought that I was going to be expressing this thing that I had come to realize, and I was coming to realize this as an actor.

Basically, that work was really picking up for me in a fast and exciting way, but still agents were hesitant to sign me because they weren’t sure how much work I was going to get. And so I was more keyed in to this inequity, this total lack of representation as someone who is seeking work in this world, and also as a viewer, because you and I as consumers of pop culture have always known this stuff. But it’s interesting that when what you observe is matched by what you observe on the inside. And that’s what was happening.

So for you when was it that you started noticing that you weren’t really represented?

“Grace is a Korean-American fashion designer living in San Francisco with her best friend Will, a black gay immigration lawyer.” -Julio Salgado
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Julio: I think I gotta go back to that whole Will & Grace thing. You mentioned in the movie Enough Said the part of the maid and [in Will & Grace] there was Rosario. I though Rosario was hilarious but my mom cleans houses, and I remember telling her like, “Mom there’s these characters, imagine if you could talk to your bosses like that?” She was like, “No, that could never happen.” And I don’t know who created Rosario, I don’t know who made that character, but I think that even if it was well-intentioned… You have a character that was sort of not giving a fuck about her rich boss; it was a strong character. Yes, it was. Still, it became okay to make fun of people of color, and I think that show, while it was really good, it was hella racist. It was very racist, it was very anti-femme, anti- all these things. So we laughed about it, and then I thought, “Huh, it’s really funny, but there’s something wrong about laughing at a lot of these instances.”

“Writers and artists bring their experience to the things they create. You cannot not bring those things.”

This was me growing up and finding out, “Oh, there’s writers behind all these characters.” And I’m thinking, “Who’s creating these characters? Who’s writing the storylines for these characters?” Did they have somebody who cleans houses to talk to, to develop this character, or is it just a mix of cartoons or stereotypes that writers used to create this character? So that to me was like, “hmmm.”

And then, when I was in college my friends and I would like start creating fake characters, writing fake characters. I realized, “Oh, a lot of this is based on [our] experiences.” And writers bring that, even if they think they don’t, writers and artists bring their experience to the things they create. You cannot not bring those things. So I think that to me was a big moment.

When you were putting up the videos, do you hear back from any of the producers or the moviemakers? Did you get any backlash from the directors or actors?

“I went for an audition, and the casting director was the casting director of three of the movies that I did for Every Single Word. They said to me, ‘I wanted to publicly support your work, but I couldn’t politically.’”

Dylan: I didn’t. In terms of public figures and their silence or lack of silence, I got some really nice support. Aziz Ansari tweeted out the videos, and Carey Washington did too. And Junot Diaz wrote this really nice writeup about them. But those are all people who are on our side. Those are people who get it. But in terms of the directors, in terms of the people associated with the movies that I use the example of, no. No one reached out, no one said anything. But that’s the culture we’re creating right now. Because we’re kind of creating this culture of fear. I would have loved to have engaged in a conversation about it. Not in a blaming or shaming conversation of like, “You are a racist and you are the worst and I’m gonna take you down.” Because that’s what we’re used to, we’re used to if someone misspeaks they’re labeled a racist, and I think that’s inhibiting the conversation from actually starting.

I’ll tell you one thing that was really interesting, and I won’t name names or even name names of the movies. But just last week I went for an audition, and the casting director was the casting director of three of the movies that I did for Every Single Word… And when the cameras were off, meaning when the audition was not being recorded, and it was just me and them in a room, and they said to me, “You know I wanted to publicly support your work, but I couldn’t politically.” And it’s like, I get that.

It’s not that there’s one person that’s to blame. It’s definitely not the casting directors, they’re just getting word from the producers, it’s not the producers, they’re getting word from the executive producers, and the executive producers, the people who are funding these movies, are really just like… like Ridley Scott said so bluntly and so crudely, it’s that people don’t want to back movies with people of color in the lead. If we’re choosing one person to blame and one person to target in these things, then we’re missing the point. We’re saying that audiences don’t want to see universal stories told by people of color. That needs to be changed, but we’re not going to change that by criticizing just one person. Then people get defensive, then people get silent.

“These are the Sex and the City girls I’d be friends with!” -Julio Salgado
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“What do we do now? What do you do when you’re done criticizing, what do you create?”

Julio: I think this is why, for me, we can break things down and we can analyze and that’s good — this is a super important part of the conversation — but, then it’s like, what do we do now? What do you do when you’re done criticizing, what do you create? I think on a larger scale, in a larger picture, what Shonda Rhimes is doing… I mean she’s made some comments about race and this and that, but she’s just doing it. She’s putting people of color as leads and it’s successful. It’s like, “What is your excuse now to not back up projects that are mostly people of color?” This is a big example.

And also, I don’t know who the casting director was that you talked to, but these people inside need to step up. I mean Effie Brown, standing up to Matt Damon; she has a lot to lose. She was the only person of color in that conversation. The only woman! And Matt Damon had this whole white bro response, “Let me tell you about diversity.” But there has to be more than Effie Brown stepping out and saying what’s wrong in this conversation. Because these types of conversations happen all the time. Who’s creating this and who’s putting the money in the movies?

Dylan: And so on that note of what happens next, because you’re an artist and you’re an activist, and I know that so many of us traffic in these two worlds. So you’ve done things like your current project, but you’ve also made web series and murals and posters. So for you, what came first, or did any of them come first, between being an activist and an artist?

“I was always an artist, but my experience as an undocumented student, an undocumented immigrant, a queer undocumented immigrant, really informed the art that I made.”

Julio: I think I’ve always been an artist since I was a little kid. Drawing has always been my passion, and when I went to high school I was in the art club and all the art related things, and my teachers were like, “You should study art, that’s what you should do.” I have another layer in my life, it’s that I’m undocumented, and so college access was not as easy as for people who are born here. And so luckily in California, the year that I graduated from high school there was the bill called AB 540 which allowed undocumented students to pay in-state tuition, so I went to community college and I studied art.

So I majored in art for the first semester and I realized that I was studying all these white dead men. I was like, “Art does not make sense to me any more.” So I ended up studying journalism, and it was in journalism where I really started politicizing myself. And I’m like, “Wow, you can use art to call to some of these issues that are super important to me.” So I started doing a lot of political art, political cartoons, and it was again, very much inspired by what was happening in art.

Around the same time there was a lot of undocumented students who started coming out as undocumented and unafraid, and was I like, “Yo, I need to contribute to this movement because it deeply affects me.” And so a couple of my friends from college, we created this media group called DREAMers Adrift, and it was a direct response to the way that the media was talking about us being undocumented and being students. And so with that theme in mind I felt like, “I’m not just gonna talk about it, I’m going to be a part of it.”

So a lot of us started making posters, videos, and really going back to the roots of pop culture, which was sketch comedy. We started making this series called Undocumented and Awkward — none of us professional actors like yourself — but we started acting out our frustrations about being undocumented and how awkward it could be. So a lot of those videos, people used them to educate themselves.

So to go back to your question, I was always an artist, but my experience as an undocumented student, an undocumented immigrant, a queer undocumented immigrant, really informed the art that I made.

How about you? You always knew you were an artist right?

Dylan: Yeah, I don’t feel like there’s a difference. I feel like to be an activist, if you just break that down, an activist is someone who has something to say and kind of finds the most productive and most direct way to say it, for them. And I think that is the same as being an artist. There is always something to say, and you’re finding a way to do that. And you were talking about the sketch comedy group that you made, none of you professional actors, but I think that’s what art is. Art is not an MFA graduate going and like researching and then making sketch comedy. To me that is ideal art. To me that is and that’s like real art. Because that is people who are feeling something, and express those feelings in a way other than just directly writing it down or speaking it. You’re speaking it in an indirect way, and what is art other than that? Saying, “I see the world like this. This is how I experience things.” And art allows you to get into that idea, to get into your head in an indirect way, which I actually think is more inviting.

I think I’ve been aware of this for a very long time: when you tell a good story, or you make people laugh, you are breaking their barriers down so they can be more receptive to a message. Whereas if you start with the message, if you’re like, “It is hard to be an undocumented immigrant,” I think there is less than an in. Whereas if you’re making people laugh about relatable human stories about being undocumented, there’s just more empathy for that.

“When you tell a good story, or you make people laugh, you are breaking their barriers down so they can be more receptive to a message.”

And I think the thing is, what you and I are honing in on with our work, what’s going on here is that we’re only building empathy for one type of person, we’re only building empathy for white people. That is who acts out these stories that are actually about all of us. That is who is our avatar in this world. And yes, we need white avatars, but we also need every other avatar. But right now it’s so skewed white. So it’s not like, “Let’s abolish white people!” Let’s acknowledge that those are not the only people who exist. Because if an alien came down to the world and only understood us through television, they would truly believe that only white people existed, and only white straight people, or straight-acting, as Roland Emmerich loves to say, only exist in this world. And they would be so shocked to actually go to the real world then.

Julio: And I think that’s what happens when they’re like, “What? What do you mean you’re angry? Why are you doing this?”

Dylan: Yeah, “You’re just race-baiting. You’re making this about race and it’s not.”

Julio: Yes, that’s where it gets me. But it’s all about continuing to do the work. Cause otherwise, why are we doing it in the first place?

Dylan: That’s so true.

“This Full House is a Filipino family and it’s set in Daly City. The oldest daughter is undocumented and the youngest two were born in the U.S. Also, uncle Jesse is queer.” -Julio Salgado
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Julio: Definitely most of the reactions that I got, if I didn’t read the comments, were pretty positive. A lot of people of color were like, “Yes, imagine if these shows had been with people who looked like us.” But what was really surprising to me, and this wasn’t the point, but people were like, “What about shows like Living Single or Girlfriends or George Lopez? What about those shows?” Well they exist, but this is not about trashing those shows — which I deeply love and which I was obsessed with as well — but the whole point of this project is to show that white people are given the chance, the resources, and the means to fail.

A show like Seinfeld for example, when it first started it wasn’t that popular. It wasn’t the Seinfeld that people know now. It was still the weird Seinfeld that people love, but it didn’t get as much viewership as other shows would have done to get a next season. But someone believed in them. Somebody was like, “Hey, you know what? Let’s continue putting my name on this show.” And then it became the show it became.

“We are so defensive of being called racists, of being identified for racism, that we will mercilessly defend anyone from that title.”

Now, I think for a lot of shows that are lead by people of color, I think that you only have that one chance. And this happens with white shows as well, but with people of color shows, because these opportunities come so rarely, you have to be a really good show or otherwise you’re going to get the cut. And then you have to wait to be given the next opportunity. But with webseries like Adventures of an Awkward Black Girl, she did it and was like, “Fuck you, I’m gonna make my own show on Youtube and see how I’m gonna make it a badass show.” So I think that you don’t necessarily have to wait for opportunities, you can make your own opportunities, but those resources can definitely help.

What about you?

Dylan: I agree with everything you just said. You really summed that up well. Some of the responses, I got — we’re both making work on the internet, so there is the real ability to anonymously comment, and in the comments you really crack open and see what some people really think. And I guess just to zoom in on one example but I think is pretty characteristic of a lot of them: I released a longer video that was a composite of every Harry Potter film, every single word spoken by every character of color in the entire Harry Potter franchise. I released this statement alongside of it that said, “I love JK Rowling and I love what she created, but this is what it is.”

The comments flooded in. There was a lot of support, a lot of, “Thank you so much for highlighting this.” Then in a much smaller way there was just the crazy racism of “Yeah, people of color shouldn’t be on film,” and it’s easy to write those off, because that’s just craziness. But what’s interesting is that 40% of the comments were so furious at me and at this project, because they were like, “Are you calling JK Rowling racist?” They were like defending the honor of JK Rowling, that I would dare to call her racist.

Because on Facebook, you can see all their profile pictures, [I know] these were almost entirely white people. But that was so interesting and I think that is really where we are right now. We are so defensive of being called racists, of being identified for racism, that we will mercilessly defend anyone from that title. When it’s like, “You clearly didn’t read my blurb. I said that I loved JK Rowling and the world she created, and this is also true.” And we cannot fit both ideas into our heads. And I’m saying “we” as humans, but there seems to be this difficulty of being able to criticize a concept and use an example without having people go crazy thinking that you’re tearing down this beloved story of there’s.

“There is a big title wave coming of people who are saying, ‘You can no longer erase us, and this is how we are responding to this erasure.’”

Julio: And that’s exactly it, right. You took something that’s so loved and changed it up a little bit, and white writers take the freedom to do that all the time, to turn characters into white characters like nothing. It’s the internet and, of course, you can never go person by person and try to make your point. I think that’s why it’s important, this conversation, that people like Remezcla and other venues that have taken the time to reach out to us as the creators and give our side of the story. I appreciate Remezcla for having us.

Dylan: Yeah, me too. Julio when I saw your work, I loved it. I think you and I are part of this movement that is really beautifully bigger than us. There are a lot of artists, whether it is video or art or writing and in other ways, who are sending the same message. I think Kehinde Wiley is a great example of another artist who is in this movement, who is trafficking in a different world. She’s in the fine art world, and also Lin-Manuel Miranda with Hamilton. There is a big title wave coming of people who are saying, “You can no longer erase us, and this is how we are responding to this erasure.” I think to see work from people like you Julio, to see work from people like Lin-Manuel, Kehinde Wiley, you just think, “Well, I do think a change is coming, because there are really fascinating minds who are highlighting this problem.” I think something’s really happening here.

“Xena and Gabrielle are two Native women who must face off white colonizers.” -Julio Salgado
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Julio: And likewise, when I saw your videos I was like, “Damn, this is so good.” One of the things Remezcla wrote about you was the fact that we talk about this [problem], the fact that there’s not a lot of parts for people of color, but then you’re like straight up pointing it out, “Look, this is the proof, that look a 20-hour trilogy, I don’t know, I haven’t seen Harry Potter…

Dylan: Yeah, 19 hours.

Julio: Yeah, 19 hours and you came up with six minutes! One of the things I appreciate is the confrontational part. I’m not a very confrontational person in person, but I think that’s why I make art because I get to be confrontational. I think that’s one of the things they have in common, my project and your project, is the fact that it’s in your face. We’re taking something that’s very precious to you, and we’re turning around it in your face. That’s where I see the comparisons in both projects, is that I appreciate the confrontation. But as I mentioned earlier, “What do we do now? Where do go after we confronted?” I think we continue to create stuff and make sure that it gets out there, and it’s created with passion and love and it’s the one thing that drives us which is: I need to create.

Dylan: Yes, I think you’re totally right.