For me, growing up as a first-generation American in Miami was comfortable. Mostly, all of the people I went to school with had a similar background, so things like speaking Spanglish and balancing two cultures were things I could bond with my friends over. Of course, not all Latinos have the same lucky experience – something Project Enye does an amazing job at capturing. The multi-platform documentary project gives a voice to the varied experiences of first-generation bicultural Latinos, allowing them to share what it’s like being an American-born child to parents of Spanish-speaking countries.
“Each micro-doc showcases intimate, unscripted Enye stories and commentary that touch on topics ranging from identity and language to family and assimilation,” according to the project’s website. “Although story details vary, each segment reveals commonalities about the shared Enye experience in America that collectively defines this generation one story at a time.”
Project Enye was started by Henry Ansbacher and Denise Soler Cox in 2013, and inspired by Soler Cox’s own identity struggles growing up. After her family moved from the Bronx to Westchester County when she was a kid, she became one of the few Latinas in her community, and was plagued by the feeling that she could never be “American” enough. Meanwhile, when she went to Puerto Rico to see family, she often didn’t feel “Latina” enough, getting teased for her imperfect Spanish and Americanized outlook. In an interview with NBC News, Soler Cox reveals that it wasn’t until she was in Miami with other first-generation Americans that she felt she found where she belonged. “There was nothing special about the night, except for the fact that I felt incredibly connected with the people that were sitting at this particular table,” she said. “We were sharing stories. We were laughing, and I just felt connected.”
With her Project Enye, she aims to give others that feeling of belonging. Even though the experiences of forging your Latinidad as a bicultural person can be very personal and unique, watching the videos reminds you that there are certain things that bind us all together as a community.
Below, we selected five videos we believe you need to check out:
In this video, a young woman named Bianca Dominguez proudly explains that Beyonca Domingwez is not her name. Later in the video, she is seen at her college graduation, where the speaker butchers her last name in possibly the worst way ever. Bianca’s story is inspiring and heartbreaking. She ended up being one of the few Mexicans at her high school, which meant she was bullied and didn’t have any friends. Still, she understood why her mother wanted her at that school.
Luis Guzmán just makes everything better, and in this series, he talks about Latinos in Hollywood. Guzmán said he’s been many different kinds of Latinos on screen, and that it is now up to us to open doors for ourselves because “coño, we belong.”
American Crime actor Johnny Ortiz talked about his parents, who emigrated from Guatemala and Mexico. The video starts off with Ortiz giving tips on how to cry on camera, but he quickly gets very real. “I always thought I was going to see myself in three places: it was either jail, in a wheelchair or dead,” he said, before explaining that he has family members who are in gangs.
This woman shared her childhood struggles after being shamed for speaking Spanish with her friends at her child care center.
The New Generation of American
? In the short one-minute video, Henry Cejudo gets the point across. “I’m the new generation of what America’s all about,” he said, explaining that he is American-Mexican.