If there’s one thing actress Stephanie Beatriz (In the Heights & Encanto) has learned from working with Oscar-nominated songwriter Lin-Manuel Miranda, it’s that playing the role of someone’s “cheerleader” helps them create great work.
“Oftentimes, as creatives, we’re nervous about what we’re making and not sure we can do it,” Beatriz told Remezcla during a recent interview. “If I’m there listening and cheering them on, then hopefully they’re going to achieve things they didn’t even know they were capable of doing.”
Beatriz expects that is what will happen as she offers her support to the young, U.S.-based Latine filmmakers looking to share their voices as storytellers in the industry. Through the new McDonald’s campaign Spotlight Dorado, aspiring writers, directors, and producers will be given the opportunity to bring their narratives to life.
“This is an incredible initiative and multiyear platform that McDonald’s is starting,” Beatriz said. “It’s helping shepherd this new generation of Latino filmmakers into the professional world. It’s a way to get Latino voices into the spotlight.”
Through Spotlight Dorado, filmmakers can submit their short film screenplays on the platform. In August 2022, three finalists will be awarded $75,000 each to produce their shorts. They will also be offered mentorships from Latines in the film industry like Beatriz and director Carlos Lopez Estrada (Raya and the Last Dragon).
Once all three short films are produced, voters across the country will select their favorite. The grand-prize winner will be announced in December and will receive a year-long opportunity to work with McDonald’s on other creative spots and film development for next year’s Spotlight Dorado campaign. They will also receive a subscription to industry-standard creative software.
In her work over the last decade, Beatriz noticed how the breadth of stories being told by Latines has increased. There is, however, much more work to be done to make diversity across all of Hollywood feel like it’s making a long-term impact.
“There is a myriad of stories within the Latino community,” Beatriz said. “That’s why a project like Spotlight Dorado is so great. Latinos don’t all look one way. We don’t all sound one way. We’re not all from one place. We have many multifaceted stories to tell. You’re starting to see that more in Hollywood – stories about different kinds of Latinos. We just need much more of it.”
Through Spotlight Dorado, Beatriz believes that by giving Latine filmmakers the tools they need to tell their stories with specificity about their personal and cultural experiences, Hollywood will understand that checking boxes for Latino talent in front of and behind the camera is not enough.
“This program is so special because it invites Latinos to the table and says, ‘We know you’re creative…here is a huge set of resources at your disposal to push your project to the next level and get eyes on it.’ I can’t even imagine all the talented people who are going to be submitting to this competition.”
U.S.-based Latino writers, directors, and producers are invited to submit their screenplays at no cost to Spotlight Dorado from April 26 to June 3, 2022. Visit FilmFreeway.com.